Trump Organization settles lawsuit with ‘Food Network’s’ Geoffrey Zakarian
Celebrity chef Geoffrey Zakarian, the award-winning restaurateur and Food Network host, has reached a settlement with the Trump Organization over his decision not to open an eatery at Trump’s Washington hotel property.
On Monday, lawyers for developer Louis Ceruzzi and Zakarian announced the settlement, ending a battle that began almost two years ago, according to Eater.
In 2015, The Lambs Club owner first backed out of a deal to open a restaurant in Trump’s new luxury hotel, citing then presidential-nominee Donald Trump’s statements about immigrants from Mexico on the campaign trail, stating that “those remarks made it impossible to run a successful dining establishment in the Trump property.”
After the celebrity chef dropped out of the project, Trump initially planned to sue Zakarian for $10 million, later raising that figure to $14 million. Zakarian then countersued.
In response to the settlement, Ceruzzi said, “I am glad that we were able to work together cooperatively to put this matter behind us and wish Trump International the very best success going forward.”
“With the recent opening of our new restaurant, Point Royal, in Fort Lauderdale as well as several other new restaurants in the pipeline 2017 is already shaping up to be a hugely successful year for us,” added Zakarian.
Zakarian is the second celebrity-chef to countersue the Trump Organization after backing out of a restaurant deal. Chef José Andrés and the Trump Organization settled their legal dispute Friday.
“I am pleased that we were able to resolve our differences and move forward corporately, as friends,” Andrés said in the statement.
The settlements between both parties remain confidential.
The Trump Organization did not find a replacement restaurant to fill Zakarian’s spot, instead reserving it for a ballroom and meeting space. David Burke’s BLT Prime has since opened in the space that was allotted for the Spanish-born chef.