Owning a restaurant is a daunting task: sixty percent of eateries fail in their first year, and there’s always some new trend that threatens to steal away business. But for Cork Wine Bar owners Khalid Pitts and Diane Gross, that flash in the pan is the president of the United States, which kicks the difficulty level up a notch. Pitts and Gross are experienced restaurateurs; they’ve successfully run two locations in Washington D.C., including Cork Wine Bar, for the last several years. But they’re facing tougher competition than ever before thanks to Trump International Hotel, which houses the BLT Prime Restaurant.
Pitts and Gross tell The Washington Post that while Trump may have handed over control of his operations to his children, he’s still exerting undue influence. So they’re asking a Washington D.C. court to order Trump’s D.C. hotel business to shutter its doors while Trump owns it. The complaint notes that Trump’s gum-popping press secretary Sean Spicer has endorsed the hotel from his podium, saying “It’s an absolutely stunning hotel. I encourage you to go there if you haven’t been by.”
The Cork Wine Bar owners believe that they’re losing business because the dignitaries and such who might ordinarily dine with them might think they’ll curry favor by eating at Trump’s place. They haven’t posted significant losses, but they did say that the inauguration didn’t bring in the waves of customers they’d expected. So although they aren’t seeking damages, they don’t think Trump International Hotel continue with business as usual.
Trump surrogate and son Eric huffed that the whole thing is a “publicity stunt,” telling The Washington Post that the complainants are “people who have nothing better to do, so they harass and they harass and the [court] will throw it out…It’s ridiculous.” The statement might have carried a tad more weight if he hadn’t been on a golf course, but maybe he’s just trying to be presidential.