As Trump funnels his political energy toward dropping bombs and attempting to build a border wall, all is not well inside his hotel empire: A once-popular pricey sushi restaurant inside the Trump SoHo Hotel in Manhattan will close by mid-June, citing a major drop-off in business since the alleged billionaire won the election, Grub Street reports.
Hotel restaurant Koi — an international, pan-Asian upscale chain in the vein of Buddakan or Tao — plans to shutter June 18, saying traffic has been down significantly since Election Day. Apparently, many people simply don’t want to patronize anything with “Trump” in the name. Restaurant staffers tell Grub Street the dining room is frequently as much as 70 percent empty — one server says even “the Kardashians stopped coming” — and some have had to pick up second jobs to make ends meet.
Trump Hotels intends to fill Koi’s space with another restaurant tenant, saying in an email statement, “We appreciate the partnership we have enjoyed with Koi Restaurant for the past five years, though the restaurant will not be renewing its lease. Hotel management and ownership are exploring several opportunities for the future of the space. Our hotel brand works with top-caliber restaurants and chefs and we look forward to announcing our new partner soon.”
It’s certainly not the first example of Trump’s politics causing the hospitality industry to turn on his businesses: Back in summer 2015, a Chicago craft brewery refused to continue brewing a special beer for the bar at Trump Tower Chicago following the then-candidate’s disparaging remarks about Mexican immigrants — the very same remarks that triggered chefs José Andrés and Geoffrey Zakarian to pull out of Trump’s D.C. hotel project, setting off a cavalcade of lawsuits that were just recently resolved.
Meanwhile, the Trump Hotel in D.C. seems to be trucking along just fine, at least in part due to the fact that it hosts a steady stream of politicians and foreign officials. But even that hotel’s apparent success has created issues: Trump and his D.C. hotel are now facing a lawsuit from an area wine bar who says the POTUS is taking money away from other local businesses by wining and dining political visitors up at his own hotel. Meanwhile, a group of legal scholars and ethics experts have filed a federal lawsuit against Trump, claiming that by taking foreign leaders in as guests at his D.C. hotel he’s violating a part of the Constitution known as the emoluments clause, which bars government officials from accepting gifts or payments from foreign governments.
One fix may be to simply take Trump’s name off of his hotels — something the Trump Organization is already looking to do with its forthcoming brand of smaller boutique hotels, which will instead bear the name “Scion.”
• Koi, in the Trump Soho, Will Close, Citing a Sharp Drop in Business [Grub Street]
• The Politics of Cooking for Trump [E]