A new report from the Washingtonian reveals the tense environment inside the restaurant of Donald Trump’s D.C. hotel while he was in power. The inside look pulls from former employees and a restaurant manual that included step-by-step instructions on how to serve Trump his Diet Coke.
The restaurant kept a central table empty at all times, in case Trump wanted to stop by unexpectedly. Once he said was there, the waitstaff were trained to discreetly offer the president hand sanitizer. All condiments and drinks came with step-by-step serving instructions, catering to Trump’s germophobia. The Diet Cokes were to be opened in front of Trump, by holding the lower-third of both the bottle and the opener. The ketchup for his steaks was served the same way.
Hotel employees said his order was always the same, centering around shrimp cocktail and well-done steak. Though Trump used to get the same high-end steak as other customers, a complaint that his steak was smaller than another diner’s caused the restaurant to switch to massive Tomahawk steaks exclusively for Trump. The restaurant also kept extra-large shrimp for the president’s order.
In addition to that, they had a specially curated serving cart of junk food for when the leader of the free world was around. In spite of all this, the staff give the Trump family top marks for politeness. The real problems seemed to stem from the administration’s hangers-on.
“The biggest pain in my butt was [Rudy] Giuliani,” a former manager said. “He was constantly in the restaurant. And I complained about it. The guy would come in, expect a table for 10 at a moment’s notice at, like, 2 p.m., when we’re not fully functioning. We don’t have the staff. But he’s the President’s lawyer, and what am I supposed to do?”
Giuliani hung around the restaurant so much that a desk plaque was made for the former mayor turned Trump confidant/lawyer to be placed on his table when he was working there.
Of course, the restaurant was more than just a place to be seen among the right-wing elite. It still had to function as a restaurant. And Trump’s presidency made that difficult from time to time. The Washingtonian report noted that the kitchen and hospitality staff were always on high-alert, knowing that the press was salivating over the idea of running with any possible mistake. In addition, the Trump attachment hurt the restaurant’s standing, with a notable decline in coverage by the food-reviewing press. Other restaurant insiders believed they saw a decline in quality from the produce distributors who didn’t outright refuse to be associated with them.
“I had to double- and triple-check a lot of this product,” said former executive chef Bill Williamson. “I guarantee someone in that warehouse picking this product saw where it was going and was like, ‘Oh, fuck it, give ’em this stuff.’”