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DC Restaurant Sues the Chumph

Sounds like the basis for a class action lawsuit to me.

The Chumph is making his properties meeting places for government meetings, events, and even strong-arming  foreign visitors to stay at his chintzy Hotel, Taking away legitimate business from much higher quality establishments and even smaller restaurants in the city.

One owner has stood up to this Chumph blackmail and fraudulence…Perhaps more will join.

D.C. Restaurant Sues Trump, Claiming ‘Unfair’ Competition

Diane Gross and Khalid Pitts, owners of the Cork Wine Bar

The owners of a wine bar in Washington, D.C., say they face unfair competition from an unusual source: the president of the United States.

Diane Gross and Khalid Pitts own the Cork Wine Bar, located about 20 blocks north of both the White House and the nearby Trump International Hotel.

Gross and Pitts say that their restaurant is losing business to the hotel restaurant run by the Trump Organization, which is owned by President Trump. So they’re suing him and his hotel.

“We feel that the president of the United States, owning a hotel, owning restaurants, promoting those restaurants, is unfair and to the detriment of other businesses in the city,” Pitts said at a press conference Thursday.

Pitts and Gross were joined by a platoon of lawyers to announce the lawsuit filed in D.C. Superior Court.

The case involves Trump’s hotel located in a taxpayer-owned building, known as the Old Post Office Building. In 2013, the federal General Services Administration leased the historic building to the Trump Organization, which opened the hotel in the fall of 2016.

Here’s the issue: A provision in the lease says no federal elected official
can be on the lease or benefit from it.

Despite that language, GSA has taken no action to force Trump out of the lease. Meanwhile, Trump’s hotel is earning a reputation as “the place to be”
for lobbyists, political players and foreign diplomats. The GSA hasn’t publicly addressed the lease since Trump took office. An agency spokeswoman said it had no comment.

The lawsuit cites examples that it says show the president, his family and administration officials were seeking to boost what the lawsuit calls the hotel’s income-producing potential.

The suit, filed on Wednesday, seeks no monetary compensation. Instead, the plaintiffs want Trump to divest from the hotel or close it for the duration of his presidency.

At the press conference, lawyer Steven Schooner said an elected official shouldn’t be competing with the private sector.

“It’s an unacceptable conflict and nobody ever intended that this be tolerated,” he said.

 
 

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Hubris Leads to Black Restaurateur’s Spectacular Failure

Washington, DC., New York, Chicago, San Fran, LA, and Dallas All host great restaurants – of which a half dozen or so compete on the World Stage of greats.You want to open a restaurant and claim it belongs you better be on the very, very, very top of your game. Legendary locations for exquisite cuisine include The French Laundry, Per Se, Alinea, or  Le Bernadin are world famous. The top 5, 10, or 50 list is hotly contested and changes from year to year. Per person seatings generally run from $80 to $300 before the wine tab.

In the Washington, DC area that list include perennial favorite, The Inn at Little Washington, as well as relative newcomers Minibar, Rasika, Komi, Fiola, and French traditional stalwart L’Auberge Chez Francois.

So when an upstart opens a new place with a price tag of $1,000 a seating, at 4 times the price of 2 of the highest Michelin rated restaurants in the US, you better be able to  produce something so spectacular, people faint at first tasting.

Alas… This foolish brother couldn’t “walk the walk”.

Just from a single guy standpoint, if I’m picking up a $2,000 tab – everything from the decor, ambiance, food, service, wine better be so good – my date hands me the room key to the Presidential Suite she paid for at the hotel…With the bottle of champagne!

I’m not paying 4 times the going rate for some of the very best restaurants in the world…For a place whose decor looks like “Early Howard Johnson’s”

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Shaw Bijou Dining Room @ $2,000 for 2

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The competition — The Inn at Little Washington Veranda Dining Room @ $300-$500 for 2

Shaw Bijou, one of D.C.’s most expensive restaurants, has closed after less than three months

Fail! Chef Kwame Onwuachi lost his debut restaurant after less than three months of business.

The Shaw Bijou closed today, and the owner says the blame for the restaurant’s two-and-a-half-month existence is shared among all the principals.

Kelly Gorsuch, the principal owner of Shaw Bijou, says he saw himself as a silent investor, providing the capital for first-timers chef Kwame Onwuachi and general manager Greg Vakiner to build and run the high-concept restaurant they had been planning for years. But in retrospect, Gorsuch says he should have pushed the duo more from the start.

He says that the restaurant’s pricey tasting-menu dinner wasn’t filling seats or covering costs. So on Sunday, Gorsuch called Onwuachi and Vakiner into a meeting and told them he was closing Shaw Bijou, effective immediately. Gorsuch and the other principal investor Glenn Paik could no longer afford to keep the place running.

Neither Onwuachi nor Vakiner could be reached for comment.

“[The restaurant] bled too much, at too much of a clip, to be able to salvage it,” says Gorsuch, the president of Gorsuch Holdings, a company that operates upscale salons and other luxury brands. “It just cost a lot of money. It was a very expensive business. I’ve never quite seen that in business at all. That was new for me. The numbers were staggering.”

The closing of Shaw Bijou, first reported by Washingtonian, brings an abrupt end to a restaurant that endured wild mood swings before it served a single meal. Even before appearing on “Top Chef,” where he finished sixth out of 17 contestants last year, Onwuachi was a hot commodity. He not only had a compelling back story, but he also had an impressive run with Dinner Lab, a series of pop-up dinners in which the chef consistently impressed diners. Onwuachi’s appearances on “Top Chef” only contributed to the buzz around the young cook, even though he had never run his own restaurant or managed a kitchen.

The hype took a turn in August when Onwuachi and his team announced the price tag of their 13-course tasting menu, which would take diners on a journey through a converted townhouse. It wasn’t long before Washingtonians realized that dinner for two at Shaw Bijou could top out at $1,000, immediately making it one of the most expensive restaurants in the city. Diners couldn’t understand how someone with such a thin resume could compete with the likes of José Andrés, Eric Ziebold and Aaron Silverman.

When Shaw Bijou opened on Nov. 1, the early reviews were mixed. In his First Bite review, The Post’s Tom Sietsema enjoyed several of his savory courses but found the desserts fell flat. More dispiriting, the critic realized that after dropping $500 per person on the meal, he was still hungry. Washingtonian gave the place two stars in a review that couldn’t make sense of the story that Onwuachi was trying to weave.

Two months into its existence, Shaw Bijou slashed its prices and its offerings: Onwuachi rolled out a seven-course, $95 tasting menu on Jan. 3. The chef also offered up a little humble pie. “Humility creeps up on you when least expected,” Onwuachi noted in a letter. “The opening of this restaurant has taught us just that.”

But Gorsuch says it was too little, too late.

“I think all business is difficult. You have to be able to move and change and adapt quickly, especially when you’re starting out,” Gorsuch says. “It wasn’t happening. It wasn’t where it needed to be.”

The owner says he had been trying for weeks to convince Onwuachi and Vakiner to change the concept, but he says he couldn’t convince them.

“I think the biggest problem here, from the get, was that we were not listening to the guests,” Gorsuch says. “We spent two years working on this thing . . . I don’t care what the industry is, you put your people first and you care about the guests and you care about the details. . . I mean, numbers can be tweaked. You can cut things, but you have to have those elements.”

Gorsuch says he had spent most of Sunday trying to find jobs for the servers, cooks and bartenders at Shaw Bijou. The owner wasn’t as concerned about the chef and general manager. The longtime friends, who first met while attending the Culinary Institute of America, will probably find a new home soon, Gorsuch says.

“They’ll be fine,” the owner says. Onwuachi “had tons of offers before us.”

Gorsuch says this experience has shaken him. He’s never closed a business before. “This is probably the roughest week I’ve ever had,” he says.

But more than that, Gorsuch is upset by the lost opportunity. He says he believed in the team behind Shaw Bijou. He thought they could have pulled off the concept with proper oversight.

“The game plan was always to be super innovative,” Gorsuch says. “For all the things we did wrong, the talent that was in that building was special.”

 
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Posted by on January 16, 2017 in American Greed, Great American Rip-Off, Men

 

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A Weak Case Against Discrimination

Not sure who the Chef here thought he was dealing with – but dealing with uber-rich south westerners is a bit of a different world. They generally aren’t real up-to-date on cultural sensitivities so what they say isn’t filtered through a lens of cultural or racial appropriateness. You need to take them literally, because they don’t always express themselves in filtered or culturally appropriate terms. They tend to regard personal relationships as more important. Develop and earn that relationship and you are a friend for life no matter what you are. Deal with  it. It doesn’t mean they are racist.

Have never met Mr. Pickens, but have worked for a company which competed against his – and he is a tough customer. I would not expect him to back down on principle, or in this case due to a weak case against his ex-wife.

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T. Boone, and Madeline Pickens

I think this Chef was trying to make something…Out of nothing.

Lawsuit claims Nevada dude ranch owner asked chef for “black people food”

Madeleine Pickens wanted the African-American chef she recruited from the country club she owns in Southern California to cook “black people food” — not “white people food” — at her rural Nevada dude ranch and wild horse sanctuary, according to a federal lawsuit accusing her of racial discrimination.

Armand Appling says the wealthy philanthropist and ex-wife of Oklahoma energy tycoon T. Boone Pickens told him fried chicken, BBQ ribs and corn bread would be perfect for the tourists who pay nearly $2,000 a night to stay in plush cottages, ride horses and take Wild West “safaris” on ATVs at her Mustang Monument Wild Horse Eco-Resort.

Appling alleges he was fired 2014 in retaliation for complaining about a hostile work environment. He says Pickens’ stereotypical references were commonplace at the Elko County ranch stretching across 900 square miles on the edge of the Ruby Mountains about 50 miles west of the Utah line.

Among other things, he says Pickens, who is white, instructed him to terminate two other black kitchen staffers — one she referred to as her “bull” or “ox” and another who had “too much personality.” He says she told him they didn’t “look like people we have working at the country club” and didn’t “fit the image” of the staff she wanted at the ranch.

Pickens’ lawyers argue that even if all the allegations are true, none of her comments were racially motivated. At worst, Pickens’ remarks “reflect a non-racial personality conflict and amount to discourtesy, rudeness or lack of sensitivity,” they wrote in recent court filings.

U.S. District Judge Miranda Du said during a hearing in Reno last week that Appling’s lawyers have failed so far to prove the sort of racial hostility needed to win such a civil rights claim. She dismissed the original lawsuit that was filed in February but gave them until Jan. 13 to refile an amended complaint seeking unspecified damages from Pickens’ nonprofit, Save America’s Mustangs.

“It takes a lot to prove these allegations,” Du told California attorney Willie Williams on Thursday.

Du agreed with Pickens’ lawyer, Dora Lane of Reno, that the only comment that specifically referred to race was the reference to “black people food.”

Lane said categorizing foods by ethnicity is commonplace in the restaurant industry. Some restaurants serve Mexican food, others Chinese or Thai food, she said.

“The suggestion that such categorizations are inherently offensive is nonsense,” Lane argued in earlier court documents. “This is especially true here, given that Pickens’ alleged comments actually reflect a preference for ‘black people food’ rather than a racial animas against ‘black people’ or ‘black people food.’”

Williams said Pickens’ comments about the fired employees “not fitting in” reinforces a long history of African-Americans not being allowed into elite, private-club settings. Pickens owns the exclusive Del Mar Country Club north of San Diego where Appling worked before she hired him for a 5-month stint in Nevada.

“In many cases, the people fighting to keep African-Americans out of these private clubs would use code phrases like ‘they do not fit the image,’” Williams said in court documents. He added the use of the words “ox” and “bull” implies ownership of property, given “America’s long history of slavery where they were considered personal property of their owners.”

Lane argued it was a complimentary reference to physical strength and “was not accompanied by any overtly racial slurs.”

“Indeed, Appling does not allege that he ever heard any overtly racial epithets, such as the ‘N-word,’” she wrote in court documents.

But Williams told the judge last week the comments must be viewed in the context of racial stereotypes.

Du agreed that Lane’s arguments focus on the “plain meaning of words” while seemingly ignoring the context of comments made about “African-Americans in history and stereotypes that could give rise to racial animas.”

“If the alleged comments were not directed at him, but others who look like him, it may affect his work environment,” the judge said.

 

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Trump Thug Attacks Woman in Restaurant

Typical Trump Thug…

A Male Trump Supporter Punched A Woman Eating Dinner In The Face

The strangers allegedly argued about the election. Then he hit her.

A man punched a woman in the face at a popular French restaurant in Brooklyn after she expressed disappointment about the election of President-elect Donald Trump, according to reports from restaurant staff and witnesses.

On Saturday night, a 49-year-old woman who has not been publicly identified was at Bar Tabac in Boerum Hill with a female friend. According to Jonas Leon, the manager who was working that night, the two women were discussing the outcome of the election when a man at a nearby table got into an argument with them.

The man asked the manager to kick the women out of the restaurant. Instead, Leon moved the man and his dining companion to another table. The man paid for his meal and left the restaurant, Leon said, before sprinting back in and punching one of the women square in the face.

“The guy came back almost running, and he started pushing some customer and the high-chair next to him with the baby because he couldn’t reach the girl,” Leon said. “Then he punched the girl.”

Leon told DNAInfo that the assault was because of politics.

“The guy who punched the girl was pro-Trump for sure,” he said.

One witness, Katie Nave Freeman, told DNAInfo that she was dining at the eatery when she heard people yelling “call 911.” She saw a woman in the back of the restaurant with her hands over her face.

“The woman was extremely (and understandably) shaken,” Freeman said. “She grabbed me, sobbed and held the left side of her face in her hand.”

An NYPD spokesman confirmed to Gothamist that an assault occurred at the bar. The woman did not suffer any visible injuries and refused medical attention. No arrests have been made in the case.

On Monday, Bar Tabac posted a statement about the incident on Facebook.

We at Bar Tabac do not condone violence of any type or manner, especially in our own establishment; to the tough guy who assaulted a female patron of ours on Saturday night over a political conversation: Once the law is done with you, do not come back to Bar Tabac (this includes your partner). At a point in this nation when tensions are highest we need to come together now more than ever, we apologize to any customers who had to witness this vulgar outburst.

In the aftermath of Trump’s surprise election, there has been a slew of reports of racist, anti-Semitic and anti-women attacks by Trump supporters.

“Since the election, we’ve seen a big uptick in incidents of vandalism, threats, intimidation spurred by the rhetoric surrounding Mr. Trump’s election,” Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, told USA TODAY.

Advocates working to end violence against women have warned about a possible increase in violence under a Trump presidency.

 
 

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Mentally Handicapped Black Man Held as a Slave in South Carolina

This is pitiful.I sincerely hope they lock these two abusers up for a long, long, time in general pop.

Bobby Paul Edwards tortured and abused mentally ill black man in his restaurant

Mentally handicapped black worker rescued after 4 years of torture and enslavement by SC restaurant owners

Two brothers in Horry County, South Carolina are facing charges that they treated a mentally handicapped black employee like a slave for years, beating and overworking the man, who lived in squalor on property owned by their restaurant.

According to the Charleston Post and Courier, two Charleston attorneys filed a civil suit on behalf of Christopher Smith, who worked at the J&J Cafeteria in Conway for 23 years, but was hideously abused and exploited from 2010 to 2014.

The suit lists 14 counts against J&J owner Ernest J. Edwards and manager Bobby Paul Edwards, including false imprisonment, discrimination and exploitive labor practices. Bobby Edwards, 50, was arrested a year ago in connection with the case. Those charges are still pending.

Last October, Smith was rescued when social workers received a tip from an anonymous source who expressed concern for the man’s safety. Attorneys Mullins McLeod and David Aylor said that while the civil suit cannot change the past or rectify the harm done to Smith, hopefully it will “bring about positive change in the future.”

The Post and Courier explained that Smith worked at the Edwards brothers’ business for more than two decades, but it was when Bobby took over as manager in 2010 that Smith’s situation turned ugly.

Smith was routinely called the N-word, according to the suit. He was savagely beaten with a frying pan, hot tongs, butcher knives, belt buckles and fists. He worked 18-hour shifts Monday through Saturday and 11-hour shifts on Sundays with no breaks, receiving little pay. His total wages for each year added up to less than $3,000.

The complaint against the Edwards said that Smith was often abused on the job, dragged into the walk-in freezer where he could be heard screaming in terror and pain by other employees and begging his abusers not to kill him.

Smith told social services workers that he was too afraid to run away or leave his job at the J&J Cafeteria because he believed the Edwards brothers would hurt him even worse or murder him.

When he wasn’t at work, Smith lived in a filthy, cockroach-infested apartment owned by the Edwards brothers. The lawsuit described Smith’s living conditions as “subhuman.”

McLeod and Aylor reported that when Smith was examined by medical professionals and the Conway, SC police, he was covered in scars and other evidence of prolonged, brutal abuse.

He was targeted for abuse by the Edwards brothers, they said, because he is black.

 
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Posted by on November 17, 2015 in The Definition of Racism, The New Jim Crow

 

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The Story of Terri Upshaw, and a Family Who Would Not Accept

This one is getting some press in DC due to the imminent opening of a new Tadich Grill in Washington, DC. To be honest, I’ve never heard of the Tadich Grill in San Francisco – but have visited the city and area well enough to have frequented French Laundry (you may have to sell your firstborn for the price of a meal…But it is that good), Saison, and Quince…and have never seen the joint on any Michelin or Zagat lists. Got my eye on Restaurant at Meadowood for my next visit to the area. Perhaps it is the DC equivalent of “Old Ebbit Grill” est 1856, or the more plebian “Ben’s Chili Bowl” est 1958, which have fueled everybody from the Presidents to street sweepers in the city for generations – but are not highbrow enough to make the connoisseur lists…

Terri Upshaw was the wife of departed NFL great, and NFL Player Union head Gene Upshaw – who was probably on the top 10 list of the most respected people in sports. Her family owned the Tadich… And apparently disowned her after her marriage to Gene. The impact of that disownment, and refusal to even meet as a family with Terri and Gene’s kids is raising a few eyebrows in DC, and doesn’t bode well for their new venture. And the competition is tough.

 

Terri and husband, Gene Upshaw

Lonnae O’Neal: Terri Upshaw says she had to choose between family and love

Sometimes emotion gets the better of Terri Upshaw, and she appears softer, more vulnerable, younger than her 55 years. Then she regains her composure and continues, in spare, straightforward language, to tell the kind of story we think doesn’t happen anymore in modern America. A dark family story that syncs with a national racial history we like to tell ourselves we’re well beyond.

She talks about being raised in the upper-middle-class Buich family, who owned San Francisco’s famed Tadich Grill. She calls her upbringing strict, loving and marked by expressed disdain for people who weren’t white or Christian. A fellow might be “a great guy” if he came into the restaurant, but you knew never to bring one home, she says. “I didn’t understand it, but I didn’t question it,” Upshaw says. “I lived in a house where you didn’t question.”

As a young woman working as a hotel catering manager, she met an older football player. An African American. They hit it off and became friends. Then more. He retired, accepted a job in Washington and asked her to move with him. They’d dated for eight months without her family knowing, and she had to make a decision.

“I was scared,” Upshaw recalls on a recent afternoon near her home in Northern Virginia. She says she broke the news to her brother and sister first. “They said, ‘I can’t believe you’re doing this.’ They said our parents would be livid, upset, disappointed, embarrassed, ashamed.”

Tadich Grill in Washington, DC

Word got back to her father. She remembers how much she sobbed in that final family meeting with her parents and siblings. She was 23 and pleading for love — both theirs and her own. She thinks her mother and siblings were crying, but it has been so long. Only the final message was clear.

When she told her father that she had decided to follow the black man she loved to Washington, she says, “he told me that’s it — you’re out of the family. Change your last name, and don’t ever call us again.”

It was 1983. They married in 1986.

The black man was the legendary Gene Upshaw, whose 15-year career as a guard for the Oakland Raiders landed him in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. During 25 years in his equally famous second act as the controversial head of the National Football League Players’ Association, he helped usher in free agency, which led to an explosion in player salaries. Upshaw died in 2008, days after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The union headquarters in Northwest Washington is named Upshaw Place in his honor.

Terri Upshaw says she has not heard from her family in decades, true to their final message. While visiting San Francisco a few years ago, she saw a news report that Tadich Grill would open a D.C. location, and last month it did, to great fanfare. Guests included prominent members of Congress and a Supreme Court justice.

Her parents, now in their early 80s, and siblings have never met Upshaw’s sons, 28 and 25. She says they didn’t reach out when her husband died. She says that she has tried over the years to make contact with her family — that they ignored her at her grandmother’s funeral. When her oldest son was 3 months old, she says, she took him to her parents’ house and was ordered to leave.

There is surely another side to this, because there are always sides and layers to all of our stories. There is perhaps a heartache, a wish for a daughter’s well-being that was not properly expressed, but it is difficult to know because numerous calls, voice mails, text messages and messages left for the Buich family and sent through Tadich Grill executives explaining Upshaw’s contention and requesting comment were not returned. Her sister, reached by phone, declined to comment.

Tadich Grill, DC

Upshaw, who had never spoken publicly about the rift, says she is telling this story now, in response to a reporter’s query, because with the new restaurant, she is talking more to friends and “it sounds archaic,” she says.

It sounds like the kind of extreme racial story we don’t want to think happens anymore, although what’s closer to the truth is that both extreme and casual racism are all around us, even in some of our most solid American success stories….Read the rest here

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2015 in The Definition of Racism, The Post-Racial Life

 

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Bill Cosby and Ben’s Chili Bowl

Most major cities have a business or meeting place that becomes an “institution”. In Washington, DC that institution is Ben’s Chili Bowl. Philly and Cheese Steak. Boston and Clam Chowder…You are not a Washingtonian until you have consumed at least one of Ben’s famous chili half-smokes. Ben’s clientele crosses all color and ethnic lines, political lines, and economic status. Used to be two places in DC where the rich and powerful rubbed shoulders with the common folks – the old RFK Stadium during a Redskins game and Ben’s. The Redskins have moved to new, more egalitarian digs…But Ben’s continues…

Ben’s turned 55 year old this week, and some big names, including President Obama, Rev Jesse Jackson, and Bill Cosby turned out to grab a bite and celebrate.

 
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Posted by on August 25, 2013 in The Post-Racial Life

 

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