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Trump hotel, chef settle suit over canceled Washington restaurant

By Ian Simpson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump’s family business has reached a settlement with a second celebrity chef over a canceled deal for a restaurant at Trump’s hotel in Washington, the two sides said.

Trump had sued chef Geoffrey Zakarian in 2015 for $10 million after the restaurateur scrapped plans for a restaurant in the new Trump International Hotel a few blocks from the White House after Trump called Mexican immigrants to the United States rapists and criminals.

“After an intense, two-year legal battle, we are pleased we were able to amicably resolve our differences and wish Geoffrey continued success,” Donald Trump Jr., the Republican president’s son and executive vice president of the Trump Organization, said in a joint statement with Zakarian issued on Monday.

Zakarian said that with the opening of a new restaurant in Florida and others in the works, “2017 is already shaping up to be a hugely successful year for us.”

Terms of the settlement were not disclosed. Before the agreement, a pretrial conference was scheduled for May in District of Columbia Superior Court.

The Trump Organization and celebrity chef Jose Andres also reached a settlement last week over a canceled agreement on a restaurant at the hotel.

Andres, who was born in Spain and is a U.S. citizen, had pulled out of his deal over Trump’s disparaging comments about Mexicans, saying they harmed all immigrants.

The Trump International Hotel, which opened last fall in a building leased from the federal government, has become a rallying point for anti-Trump demonstrators and a focus of controversy since his election in November.

Although Trump critics have contended that the hotel was a conflict of interest, the government’s property oversight arm found last month that the issue had been resolved by Donald Trump Jr. taking over its management.

A Washington restaurant sued the president and Trump Old Post Office LLC in March, claiming patrons had shifted business to the new establishment to curry favor with his administration. A Trump Organization attorney said the lawsuit lacked merit.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Daniel Trotta and Dan Grebler)


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