With Trump out of office, his D.C. hotel struggling employees are finally spilling some MAJOR T to the Washingtonian about the hell they’ve endured for four years.
Everyone knew Table 72 belonged to the Trump. The round booth in the middle of the Trump Hotel’s mezzanine was not easy to miss. No one sat at Trump’s table except the President, his children, and, occasionally, an approved member of his inner circle like Giuliani or Pence –before he sicced an angry mob on him in January.
You had to stick to the script when Trump was on the premises. A “Standard Operating Procedure” document, obtained by Washingtonian, outlined step by step exactly what to do and what to say,
Among other details employees had to memorize the seven-step process for serving Trump his multiple Diet Cokes.
As soon as Trump was seated, the server had to “discreetly present” a mini bottle of Purell hand sanitizer. (This applied long before Covid, mind you.) Next, cue dialogue:
“Good (time of day) Mr. President. Would you like your Diet Coke with or without ice?”
A polished tray with chilled bottles and highball glasses was already prepared for either response. Directions for pouring the soda were detailed in a process no fewer than seven steps long—and illustrated with four photo exhibits. The beverage had to be opened in front of the germophobe commander in chief, “never beforehand.”
The server was to hold a longneck-bottle opener by the lower third of the handle in one hand and the Diet Coke, also by the lower third, in the other. Once poured, the drink had to be placed at the President’s right-hand side. “Repeat until POTUS departs.”
Trump always had the same thing: shrimp cocktail, well-done steak, and fries (plus sometimes apple pie or chocolate cake for dessert). Popovers—make it a double for the President—had to be served within two minutes and the crustaceans “immediately.”
The manual instructed the server to open mini glass bottles of Heinz ketchup in front of Trump, taking care to ensure he could hear the seal make the “pop” sound.
Former executive chef Bill Williamson, who worked at the restaurant until the start of the pandemic said Melania once sent back a Dover sole because it was dressed with parsley and chives. Trump himself never returned a plate, but if he was disappointed, everyone would hear about it.
Once Trump wondered aloud why his dining companion had a bigger steak than he did. The restaurant already special-ordered super-sized shrimp just for him and no one else.
And don’t forget the snacks. A tray of junk food needed to be available for every Trump visit: Lay’s potato chips (specifically, sour cream and onion), Milky Way, Snickers, Nature Valley Granola Bars, Tic Tacs, gummy bears, Chips Ahoy, Oreos, Nutter Butters, Tootsie Rolls, chocolate-covered raisins, and Pop-Secret.
Former executive chef Shawn Matijevich says,
“Senators and cabinet members and all of their staffs and the President’s staff, important members of the Republican Party, megachurch pastors, MyPillow guy. He was a VIP, absolutely.
The hotel would print us a book every day, if they were staying at the hotel, and it would have their pictures and their name and their job title.”
You had to know whom to suck up to. On one occasion, in the early days, the kitchen took forever with Hope Hicks’s order. She pulled the don’t-you-know-who-I-am card. The manager remembers apologizing profusely—then sending out a “dessert storm,” including a crepe soufflé and a cheesecake lollipop tree.
Perhaps the most notorious VIP was Rudy Giuliani, who had a regular table in the restaurant’s downstairs dining area. The former manager who asked for anonymity said,
“The biggest pain in my butt was Giuliani.
He was constantly in the restaurant. And I complained about it. The guy would come in, expect a table for ten at a moment’s notice at, like, 2 pm, when we’re not fully functioning. We don’t have the staff. But he’s the President’s lawyer, and what am I supposed to do?”
“It was pretty much his office. He was doing more paperwork there than eating“. Some days, he’d be there all day.”
At one point, someone made it official and created a black-and-gold plaque that read
“RUDOLPH W. GIULIANI PRIVATE OFFICE”
The restaurant would keep it behind the host stand and place it at his table before he arrived.
But between the pandemic, Trump’s loss, and the fallout from the Capitol riots, the hotel’s cachet has taken a nose dive. The property took a 63% loss to revenue in 2020.
In 2019, the Trump Organization started trying to unload the hotel for a reported $500 million. A number that industry pros laughed at even before COVID devastated the hospitality world.
(Photos Trump International DC, Diet Coke; Washingtonian)