Chef Geoffrey Zakarian will no longer open a restaurant at the upcoming Trump Hotel.
The chef sent this statement to Eater:
"The recent statements surrounding Mexican immigrants by Donald Trump do not in any way align with my personal core values. In light of this, I am unable to move forward with a restaurant in the Trump International Hotel, slated to open in Washington, D.C.'s Federal Post Office building. Zakarian Hospitality employs many immigrants from nations all over the world, and I look forward to continuing this business culture in my future restaurants. We are a nation built from immigrants, my family included.
The move comes a day after chef José Andrés pulled out of The Trump Hotel project as well. A protest is planned today at the site of the hotel regarding the remarks made by mogul and politician Donald Trump. Eater has reached out to the hotel's representatives for comment.
Zakarian had planned to open a restaurant called The National at the property.
UPDATE: The Trump team sent this response to Eater:
I am personally offended by the main-stream media’s attempt to distort my comments regarding Mexico and its great people. My views have been consistent and totally clear, but inaccurately reported. I have many successful business relationships with Mexican companies and employ, and am close friends with, many Mexican people. I also have tremendous respect for the leaders of Mexico, who, frankly, are much smarter and tougher than our politicians here in the United States. The disappointment I expressed relates to our incompetent politicians and their failed trade and immigration policies. We cannot allow illegal immigrants to pour into our country. We can barely support our own, much less continue to allow millions of people of many different nationalities to enter our country illegally across an unprotected and porous border and take much needed jobs from American citizens.
Further, this is an issue of national security that should be of great concern. It is a matter of fact that Mexico has some of the toughest immigration laws in the world—policies that we should consider ourselves. Our country owes $18 trillion dollars and that number is rising fast. We are in serious trouble, economically and from a security perspective, and we need leaders who are intelligent, truthful and tough in order to negotiate deals with countries like Mexico, and many others, that will Make America Great Again.
SECOND UPDATE: The Trump team sent a second statement specifically in reference to Zakarian's decision.
"We know Geoffrey Zakarian very well and this decision has absolutely nothing to do with his ‘core values.’ Zakarian is using the distortions by the media of Mr. Trump’s comments in an opportunistic attempt to renege on clear and unequivocal obligations under his lease. Zakarian has put up a non-refundable $490,167 deposit and has fully guaranteed the lease. Construction at Trump International Hotel, Washington D.C. is under budget and ahead of schedule. Donald Trump is investing hundreds of millions of dollars to restore this national treasure and employing many hundreds of people in the process. Zakarian’s foolish decision will be his loss and will have no effect on the completion and success of this project."