Celebrity Chef Jose Andres Saturday addressed the lawsuit presidential candidate Donald Trump filed against the restaurateur, calling it “both unsurprising and without merit.” The Trump Organization filed a $10 million lawsuit against Andres’ ThinkFoodGroup in federal court in Washington Friday, alleging Andres breached his contract when he backed out of plans to open a flagship restaurant in Trump’s luxury hotel in the District of Columbia. The lawsuit claims the damages include both the lost rent and the cost of finding a new tenant.
Andres nixed his plans to launch a restaurant in the real estate mogul’s $200 million redevelopment project of the historic Old Post Office Pavilion in July after Trump made controversial comments in June, saying Mexican immigrants bring drugs and crime into the country. Andres had previously had a 10-year deal to open a restaurant that would have taken up 10,000 square feet in the new Trump International Hotel.
While Andres didn’t respond to media questions about the lawsuit Friday, ThinkFoodGroup released a statement to Politico Saturday night addressing the issue.
“This lawsuit is both unsurprising and without merit,” said the statement, which was posted to Twitter Saturday. “Simply put, Mr. Trump’s comments made ThinkFoodGroup’s participation in this project impossible and constituted a breach, which the landlord, Trump Old Post Office LLC, refused to remedy. And despite our attempts to negotiate an amicable resolution, we were ultimately forced to terminate the lease. We had every intention of running a successful business that celebrates and welcomes people and cultures from around the world. The landlord allowed Mr. Trump to saddle us with the burden of his inflammatory statements, such that operating a high-end Spanish restaurant is no longer viable at this location.”
There has been no response from Trump’s camp. But the lawsuit said Trump has never varied on his views about immigration.
"Mr. Andres' offense is curious in light of the fact that Mr. Trump's publicly shared views on immigration have remained consistent for many years, and Mr. Trump's willingness to frankly share his opinions is widely known," the suit read.