Stephen Starr Turned Down Offer to Open Restaurant in D.C. Trump Hotel

Donald Trump; Stephen Starr

Trump photo by Gage Skidmore (license)

There’s a good story by Jessica Sidman in Washingtonian magazine about how Donald Trump lost the restaurants in his new Washington, D.C., hotel. Two restaurateurs, José Andrés and Geoffrey Zakarian, pulled out of the under-construction hotel after Trump announced his campaign last year by saying immigrants from Mexico are rapists and drug dealers. (“Some, I assume, are good people,” he added.)

The Trump Organization is now in litigation with Andrés and Zakarian. But it was also left scrambling to fill the restaurant space in time for the hotel’s grand opening. Trump’s team and Streetsense, a design and real-estate firm that’s a big player in the D.C. restaurant scene, attempted to find a new restaurant partner to replace the two that were leaving.

And Stephen Starr, who opened Le Diplomate at the corner of 14th and Q Streets NW in D.C. in 2013, was asked if he’d be interested in opening a concept in Trump’s hotel. It was a hot property, as Trump’s hotel was moving into the Old Post Office — just down the street from the White House.

Starr said no.

Starr couldn’t be reached for comment by Philadelphia magazine, so it’s unclear if it was the timing, a business decision to avoid dealing with Trump, or a combination of both. But, hey, we now know he wouldn’t open a restaurant in a Trump hotel. If you need to feel better about splurging on multiple cocktails at Pod or whatever, now you have a reason.

Trump’s new hotel, which has been dogged by protests of the Republican presidential candidate, has its grand opening today. The restaurant in the building is called BLT Prime by ESquared Hospitality, a restaurant company with concepts around the world; a second planned restaurant space was turned into another conference room.