Friday, April 21, 2006

Fran O'Brien's update: There's a stench in Washington

Third Wave Dave is guest blogging over at Lucky Dawg News.

A very brief summary: For the last couple of years, Fran O'Brien's Steakhouse, which leases space from the Capitol Hilton in Washington, has been hosting weekly dinners for recuperating soldiers from nearby Walter Reed Hospital. O'Brien's picks up the tab.

Their lease is not being renewed by the Hilton Corporation.

The Hilton people, including Capitol Hilton General Manager, have not been forthright in explaining why Fran O'Brien's lease is being pulled.

Indepundit posted an e-mail from fellow milblogger Buzz Patterson about controversy:

I just had a long chat with Hal Koster. Our worst fears are not only well founded but grossly understated. It's a complete and thorough cluster @#$%. (Sorry, my words not his). I haven't been this pissed about anything in a very long time.

Andi, Kelleher's responses to our questions were blatant lies. Despite what Kelleher says, Hilton has done nothing to support the dinners... never met a bus, never contributed a cent, never negotiated for changes to bring the restaurant into ADA compliance, never advertised the restaurant or the dinners within their own hotel, never provided logistical support... in a word, they've done absolutely zip. In fact, Kelleher hides out in his office and has had no contact with Fran's owners. Hilton Corporate hasn't returned phone calls or e-mails. Hal has never spoken with a rep from Hilton about a future. This O'Boyle guy who is supposedly in charge of Hilton's leases has been MIA for years. Not only unprofessional in my opinion but grossly negligent. Fran's has been profitable every year in spite of the fact that Hilton won't even live up to their responsibilities for facilities management. They've had some plumbing issues... Hal and Marty now call their own plumber. Hilton wanted Fran's to re-upholster the booths and change the carpet, Hal and Marty asked for ADA compliance in return. When negotiations ceased, Hilton doubled their rent last month (doubled!). And then issued an eviction notice two weeks later.

Hal and Marty have retained lawyers and, as mentioned before, have the support of several influential organizations and people...

This is complete bullshit. Hilton has every right to make their business decisions. But our wounded vets are being kicked to the curb. When media show up now to document the process, Hilton's security team denies them access to the loading dock, the service elevator and the inhuman conditions our troops in wheelchairs have to endure to get to the frikkin restaurant.

It's not about the few thousand bucks it would cost to make this thing work... hell, I'll kick that in. This is about a bunch of numbskulls with no understanding of civil service, patriotism or, for that matter, good business sense. And I'm no hotel management major.

CBS and CNN are doing pieces tomorrow. As much as I despise MSM, I welcome this. Hannity & Colmes are doing a live hit Friday night. What's Alan gonna say? It's a right wing conspiracy? How can anyone argue in opposition to ADA especially when it's vets?

This, quite frankly, reeks. I'll be on my best behavior Saturday at the conference but this sucks. Pushing the throttles up...unarmed and unafraid. Feel free to quote me.


Op-For weighs in:

This is turning out to be a major black eye for the Hilton Hotel chain, which is starting to look absolutely sleazy. With milbloggers nationwide converging on DC this weekend, they simply could not have picked a worse time to pull a stunt like this. Keep your eyes on the milbloggers, Foxnews, CBS, and CNN for updates.

If you'd like to help save Fran O'Brien's, you can bypass the Capitol Hilton and go straight for their corporate comm chief:

Lisa Cole, Director of Communications:

Previous Fran O'Brien's posts:

Hilton Corp. not renewing lease of pro-troops restaurant

Fran O'Brien's update

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