Breaking into a new market is tough enough for the average restaurateur.
In his quest to introduce D.C. to his brand of sushi, hospitality vet Alessandro Borgognone further stacked the deck against himself by: a) swooping into the void created when tastemakers José Andrés and Geoffrey Zakarian pulled the plug on restaurants they had planned for Trump International Hotel after then-presidential candidate Donald Trump made inflammatory statements about unauthorized immigrants, and b) dissed the D.C. dining scene at large (“It’s a meat-and-potatoes town,” he told Grub Street).
Borgognone discussed the subsequent backlash that’s engulfed his latest restaurant, Nakazawa, with Esquire.
Here are five tidbits to chew on from that interview:
- Chef Anthony Bourdain is not a fan: "I will never eat in his restaurant," Bourdain informed Eater in late December. "I have utter contempt for him, utter and complete contempt."
- Borgognone has no interest in feuding with a “glorified line cook on CNN”: "Having contempt for someone you don't know is pretty childish to me," Borgognone said. "I wouldn't say it hurts because he doesn't know me."
- Borgognone, who self identifies as a Democrat, insists he’s no brown-noser-in-chief: “We didn't have a political agenda. We didn't want to kiss Trump's ass. We fell in love with the building."
- Borgognone’s not sure Trump gets enough credit either: "I don't think he's as stupid as everybody says."
- Nakazawa will not occupy the same spaces previously carved out for Andrés or Zakarian: "We didn't want sloppy seconds," Borgognone stated.