José Andrés, the D.C.-based super-chef with a growing national brand, is backing out of a deal to open the flagship restaurant in Donald Trump’s forthcoming Washington hotel – the latest on a growing list of high-profile partners to sever ties with the presidential candidate over his anti-immigrant comments.
Andrés, the co-owner of ThinkFoodGroup whose restaurant empire spans 18 restaurants and food trucks, multiple cookbooks and TV shows, described the move as both a professional and personal one. The Spanish-born chef, who became an American citizen in 2013 after living in the U.S. for decades, frequently invokes his pride in being an immigrant.
“Donald Trump’s recent statements disparaging immigrants make it impossible for my company and I to move forward with opening a successful Spanish restaurant in Trump International’s upcoming hotel in Washington, D.C.,” the statement reads. “More than half of my team is Hispanic, as are many of our guests. And, as a proud Spanish immigrant and recently naturalized American citizen myself, I believe that every human being deserves respect, regardless of immigration status.”
A spokesman for the restaurant group would not disclose the terms of the lease Andrés had signed with Trump’s organization for the restaurant, which was to open next year in Trump’s $200 million redevelopment of the historic Old Post Office Pavilion. But Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., e-mailed a response, indicating that the contract was for 10 years.
Last month, Trump set off an avalanche of criticism when he said of illegal Mexican immigrants: “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” Later, the defiant GOP candidate doubled down on his stance. “I can never apologize for the truth,” he said. Corporate partners have been bailing on him in droves, and a change.org petition sprang up, asking Andrés to join their ranks.
Andrés has long championed immigration reform, penning a 2013 op-ed in The Post calling on Congress to act on a long-stalled overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws and to support a so-called “path” to legalization for the millions of undocumented workers in the U.S.
“The fellow immigrants I’ve known and worked with over the years, those with legal status and those without, are here for the right reasons,” he wrote. “They don’t want to cause any trouble, take any handouts or steal anyone’s job.”