Donald Trump sits at Table 72 and only Table 72. We learn this in a new piece in the March 2021 issue of The Washingtonian, titled “Trump Hotel Employees Reveal What It Was Really Like Catering to the Right Wing Elite.” The piece, written by Washingtonian reporter Jessica Sidman, details a series of unimaginably intricate rules and rituals at BLT Prime, the restaurant inside Donald Trump’s D.C. hotel. Sidman calls Table 72 “a carefully curated prop in the Trump Show”; it is, in fact, the centerpiece of a political song and dance that terrorized Trump Hotel hospitality workers for four long years. Before you dive into Sidman’s excellent article—and you should—I’ll rehash some highlights.
First, the hotel restaurant staff had to follow an official “Standard Operating Procedure” script anytime Trump dined at BLT Prime. Sidman writes:
As soon as Trump was seated, the server had to “discreetly present” a mini bottle of Purell hand sanitizer. (This applied long before Covid, mind you.) Next, cue dialogue: “Good (time of day) Mr. President. Would you like your Diet Coke with or without ice?” the server was instructed to recite. A polished tray with chilled bottles and highball glasses was already prepared for either response. Directions for pouring the soda were detailed in a process no fewer than seven steps long—and illustrated with four photo exhibits. The beverage had to be opened in front of the germophobe commander in chief, “never beforehand.” The server was to hold a longneck-bottle opener by the lower third of the handle in one hand and the Diet Coke, also by the lower third, in the other. Once poured, the drink had to be placed at the President’s right-hand side. “Repeat until POTUS departs.”
From there, Sidman reports on Trump’s rigid, downright bratty dining preferences. Sidman writes that Trump always ordered the same thing: shrimp cocktail, well-done steak, and fries followed by the occasional dessert. Sidman writes, “Popovers—make it a double for the President—had to be served within two minutes and the crustaceans ‘immediately.’”
Sidman also outlines a series of cartoonish mishaps—like the time a busser’s apron got caught on the door of a private dining room, which caused him to fling steak sauce all over GOP operative Arthur Schwartz. Or the black-and-gold plaque that read RUDOLPH W. GIULIANI PRIVATE OFFICE, which the restaurant kept behind the host stand to place on Giuliani’s table. Or the way food suppliers ditched the chef because they “couldn’t deliver to the hotel in good conscience.”
I’ll admit that a lot of the discourse surrounding former President Donald Trump’s eating habits rubs me the wrong way. The man is a morally bankrupt criminal, but linking his junk food habits and weight to his morality is a deeply offensive approach. This is not that. This is an account of a wannabe tyrant’s treatment of the people who help illustrate his stagnant fantasy world. More than that, it’s a damning portrait of entitled GOP elites and the unimaginative ways they shit on hospitality workers. If you can stomach that, drop what you’re doing and read Sidman’s article right now.