Part of being a great restaurant owner, especially when working in the high-end sector, is being able to finesse the particulars that come along with hosting extremely public people. In Washington D.C., where some of the most powerful people in the world also like to have a night out from time to time, those nuances grow more complicated still.
And right now... well, that’s an entirely different situation. A feature in The Washingtonian on VIP dining around the nation’s capital includes details both anecdotal (Herman Cain can hold down his Crown Royal, apparently) and fascinating about what it’s like to run a D.C. restaurant in such a tense cultural climate. In addition to the expected ego and inter-party conflicts, there’s also the matter of what having representatives of this particular Presidential cabinet says about one’s establishment to various outside parties.
In particular, the Washingtonian feature addresses Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, as divisive a figure as any within the current federal government. In talking about one owner who caters to some of the most controversial figures in American politics, and how to handle the resulting optics, he slips in a bit of telling acknowledgement:
One DC restaurateur who has hosted polarizing insiders including Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and White House senior adviser Stephen Miller—architect of the President’s hard line on immigration—says he prefers to seat Trump officials in a private back corner away from the sidewalk-facing windows. Secret Service like the proximity to the back door, but the restaurateur sees an added perk to hiding controversial figures who might spark a confrontation. “The only thing I wish is that nobody walks by my window and realizes she’s dining with us,” he says of DeVos.
In addition to the shocking confirmation that DeVos is in fact a human being who eats food, he goes on to discuss at length how Miller demands to sit right in the center of restaurants when dining out, because of course he does.
The entire feature is well worth a read, as a study in modern strife and a reminder that the affluent inhabit an alternate reality from the rest of us alike. But it’s also worth remembering that the anonymous restaurateur’s concerns are hardly unfounded; Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Mitch McConnell, and Ted Cruz have also been intimidated out of restaurants since America went and got all weird. Things are tense and getting tenser, and being able to leave one’s job at work is a lot harder when the fate of the world is involved.