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A Hungry Media Frenzy Was Fed Free Falafel During Trump’s Historic Arraignment

Fast-casuals, food trucks, and UberEats catered to the circus surrounding the D.C. federal courthouse on Thursday, August 3

The U.S. Capitol is seen past members of the media outside the E. Barrett Prettyman US Courthouse in D.C.
Photo by STEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images
Tierney Plumb is the editor of Eater DC, covering all things food and drink around the nation's capital.

When the head of fast-casual Mediterranean counter Taïm drove by and saw throngs of media posting up outside the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse this week, he got an idea.

“He realized that these reporters were likely going to be sitting in the same spot for a long time — probably all night long — and wanted to make sure they had a good meal,” a Taïm rep tells Eater.

Taïm’s O.G. Falafel (hummus, tomato, cucumbers, pickled cabbage, and tahini sauce on pita) kept reporters going.

So the CEO and D.C. native Phil Petrilli sprung into action and mobilized his nearest Dupont Circle store to assemble 100 falafel pitas and flock to the federal courthouse to fuel up ravenous news crews, all waiting to cover the unprecedented arraignment of a former U.S. president-turned-criminal defendant inside. The free falafel “saved the day,” a NewsNation rep told Eater, and vows to now be a customer. (NYC-based Taïm also has local stores in College Park and Tysons, with another en route to Fairfax on Friday, August 11.)

Former President Donald J. Trump surrendered in federal court around 4 p.m. on Thursday, August 3, pleading not guilty to all four felony charges including conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election. TV trucks and big-name broadcasters came to D.C. in droves for his third criminal arraignment in four months — and arguably the most serious — in the shadow of the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

The Pennsylvania Avenue NW vantage point surged to 1,000 spectators during the peak hours of 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., when Trump was en route to, inside, and leaving the courthouse in a black SUV motorcade. The crowd count also included vocal demonstrators for and against the former president.

Trash cans near the courthouse overflowed with fast-casuals.
Tierney Plumb/Eater DC
Bebo Treats parked near the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, August 3.
Tierney Plumb/Eater DC

Located around D.C.’s notorious food-desert stretch of government buildings and Smithsonian museums, there wasn’t a ton to choose from. ABC7’s local news team all opted for a Potbelly sandwich fix, taking turns walking to its nearest locale three blocks away. The day offered such fast-casuals a rare summer spike in business at a time their normal 9-to-5 clientele is on vacation. Countless trash cans circling the courthouse overflowed with discarded Subway, Chick-fil-A, and Pret A Manger containers and cups. Lunchtime standby Franklin Grill in the Hall of States also provided catered platters of wraps to crews.

Some D.C. establishments capitalized on the spectacle itself with Trump-themed specials for locals. H Street NE’s vegan cafe Sticky Fingers Diner offered an all-day “Grab ‘em By the Peach” cupcake combo, while Park View’s Midlands circulated a “When It Arraigns We Pour” deal of $5 Mermaid pilsners all night. Fight Club DC plans to serve its “Traffic Cone of Treason” cocktail menu through the weekend, including a 3rd Times the CHARGE (vodka, raspberry, rosemary, lemon) and Co-Conspirator: R.Giuliani.

Snow plows went to work in the summer as barricades in front of the courthouse.
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Media arrived early on Thursday to snag a front-row seat outside the courthouse, pitching tents and waiting out the drizzly day on folding lawn chairs equipped with watered-down iced coffee in cupholders. If only it were beer, the scene would’ve looked straight out of a summer concert tailgate series.

The scene as Trump made an underground exit from the courtroom.
Life Expressed Online
A demonstrator blasted music near the federal courthouse.
Life Expressed Online

Some ran on an all-day Starbucks and Gatorade diet and didn’t make time to eat. As the day wrapped up, LiveU crews were still toting around their morning takeout bags from Ministry coffee shop and Art & Soul — with its breakfast burrito still inside.

While sitting on a sidewalk curb facing the federal building, one press pool summoned UberEats to maneuver traffic and a sea of cop cars to deliver oxtail, rice and peas, beef patties, and fried plantains all the way from Bloomingdale’s Jam Duong Style.

As Trump was getting processed, fingerprinted, and facing federal prosecutors in court, a colorful ice cream truck that typically follows National Mall tourists raced over to nab the last parking spot behind a bumper-to-bumper row of satellite-towered TV stations. One other lone option on wheels was Bebo Treats, a new D.C. food truck run by a family from Sierra Leone. Partner Lu George pulled up around the arraignment’s start time and made 50 boba tea and soft serve sales in under two hours.

News crews waiting around on Thursday, August 3.
Life Expressed Online

The D.C. federal courthouse is no stranger to hosting huge, internationally televised trials (Watergate, Monica Lewinsky, and Iran-Contra, to name a few). But the charges against the current GOP frontrunner are unprecedented, with the next hearing scheduled for August 28.

Meanwhile, two nearby power-dining places just got another kind of TV time. The new Paramount+ spy thriller series, Special Ops: Lioness, shot a lunchtime scene at Capital Grille and Michelin-starred Fiola was named-dropped by a high-ranking CIA official played by Nicole Kidman.