I once dated a man who whenever we went to a restaurant, would not let the host choose our table. He’d follow the host for about five feet, point to a table and decide that’s where we were sitting and just seat himself. I was left to hang back and apologize to many hosts, who were kindly pretending that we weren’t the most annoying two people to ever enter the restaurant. Unfortunately for food service employees everywhere, there seems to be a more monstrous customer than my ex-boyfriend and that is twice impeached former president Donald Trump.
During his presidency, Trump frequented a restaurant called BLT Prime where he often ordered well-done steaks, shrimp cocktails, and Diet Coke according to the Washingtonian. The restaurant, housed in the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC, faces an uncertain future after a revenue loss of 63% in 2020, and staff are now sharing horror stories about waiting on Trump and his minions.
The stories range from mortifying to shit that is so outlandish, if you didn’t have years of leaked Trump antics, you’d think someone was making it up. By far the most interesting tidbit is the process of serving Trump his daily Diet Coke:
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.”
Seven. Steps. For pouring a tasteless drink into a cup. I could understand a little pomp and circumstance for pouring out some crisp refreshing Dr. Pepper, but Diet Coke? The worst tasting of all the diet sodas on the face of this earth? It doesn’t make sense.
What does make sense is that the second most annoying person visiting the restaurant, a former manager told the Washingtonian, was Rudy Giuliani who frequented the place so often that a plaque was made for his usual table which read, “Rudy Giuliani Private Office.” The manager said, “The guy would come in, expect a table for ten at a moment’s notice at, like, 2 pm, when we’re not fully functioning. We don’t have the staff. But he’s the President’s lawyer, and what am I supposed to do?” Surprisingly the Trump children don’t appear to have been that bad, although Tiffany reportedly made and then skipped multiple reservations for dinner.
It seems that the one golden rule that had to be obeyed above all else was to never, under any circumstances, give away Trump’s favorite table. “I’d have people try to palm me to get closer to someone’s table, if a politician was in, or try to sit at Trump’s table, which is a big no-no,” one former manager told the Washingtonian, “I would get fired if we moved someone to Trump’s table.”
But what really elevates the experience of serving Trump from a horrible job to something that might be legally defined as torture is the fact that employees were expected to maintain the facade that they were fans of the president. “I said certain things to play the part and do what I needed to do in order to avoid problems,” said one bartender, who wanted to maintain the enormous tips that came with the job.
Problems, however, were unavoidable. When staff wasn’t bending over backward to keep Trump and his goons happy, they were being ridiculed by everyone else for working at the restaurant. One head chef said that many of his staff, who were Latine, would go home after a shift to find that their friends and family refused to speak to them, because of their jobs. Another manager was harassed on his way to work because he was wearing his uniform out in public. In the history of shitty jobs, it seems there has never been one shittier than working at BLT Prime during the Trump administration.