Marty O’Brien and Hal Koster, owners of Fran O’Brien’s Stadium Steakhouse (just a stone’s throw from the White House), have a serious problem. The problem is that they are being evicted from their basement location in the Capitol Hilton, due in no small part to the generosity they have shown to our nations wounded veterans. Fran O’Brien’s hosts a weekly free dinner every Friday for injured veterans from Walter Reid Military Hospital, and it appears that the hotels management is concerned about legal liabilities and ADA compliance. Without explanation their lease has not been renewed and now the restaurant is set to be evicted on May 1, 2006.
It’s only appropriate to allow Hilton to respond to these reports, and I’ve contacted the corporate press relations officials to get the Hilton side of the story. I expect that there will be official word from Hilton on the matter on Thursday.
Update: I made contact with a Hilton spokesperson this morning and it appears that the story the story of the eviction is true. Hilton denies that the decision has anything to do with the Friday dinners or the veterans who attend. Fran O’Brien’s was on a 6 month holdover from a lease that expired last year. The hotel claims that the decision to close Fran O’Brien’s is a business decision – nothing more. Specifically they deny that liability concerns were an issue. They note that they’ve held events attended by disabled veterans recently at the hotel, and that the hotel GM was a frequent attendee at the Friday night dinners. The hotel is in discussions with one of the sponsors of the Friday dinners about continuing the event at one of the other restaurants in the facility (Twiggs) or in one of their conference rooms.
Given that the meal is the brainchild of Koster (a Vietnam vet), I’m not sure how successful the hotel will be in attempting to continue the tradition in his absence. It looks like very much like a two and a half year tradition will get tossed aside by the Hilton’s decision.
Representatives for Fran O’Brien’s were not available for comment this evening, though they indicated that they would be available Friday morning.
Save Fran O’Brien’s – [Andi’s World]
Heaven for Wounded Vets in Danger of Closing Doors [The Real Ugly American]
The Battle for Fran O’Brien’s – [Mudville Gazette]
Heaven for Wounded Vets – [Capitol Hill Blue]
Steak and ale soothe ailing soldiers – [Kathleen Parker]
Pictures of the weekly dinner at Fran O’Brien’s Stadium Steak House – [Lance Frizzell]
Note: When this story was first published I had added this at the end:
- Assuming the story is true and Hilton plans on continuing its planned eviction of Fran O’Brien’s the logical response is to take to the street and show our support for O’Brien and Koster, and the logical day is Friday. If you’re in DC, and you’ve got some free time Friday afternoon you might want to meet me in front of Fran O’Brien’s at 4:00pm. I’m sure that rush hour traffic, hotel patrons, and the local media will be interested in hearing this story.
The claims that Hilton is evicting Fran O’Brien’s for some sort of anti-veteran bias just don’t add up. It’s most certain that Hilton intends to evict the restaurant, but there’s no evidence that it’s more than just a business dispute. That said, if the owners of Fran O’Brien’s want to stay in the facility (which is not clear at this point) there’s no reason not to protest the Capitol Hilton’s business decision. I’d prefer to get a clear answer on whether O’Brien and Koster actually want to remain in their Capitol Hilton location before starting a campaign to change the hotel’s mind. When I get a clear answer on that, then we can talk about the “Save Fran O’Brien’s” campaign. Hal Koster was not available this evening when contacted for a comment.
Just to be clear, there will be no protest on Friday…
This is outrageous. Kevin if you can confirm this is true lets try to start a boycott of the hotel chain.
…April 31, 2006?
Yeah. I agree. We should also start boycotting the Republican party for putting the troops in harms way in the first place…
Ooops. Make that April 30, 2006
Yes, yes, BR you moron, then let’s boycott al qaida! that will make them leave us alone, like they did in September of 2001, etc…an excellent plan, why didn’t we think of this before? Just think of all the lives we could have saved over the years! Someone get on the horn with Israel and get them to begin a boycott of Palestinians with bombs strapped to them, quickly now, hop to it! Fetch me a history book! We’ll draw up a quick revision where Chamberlain’s ‘boycott’ of Hitler eases all tensions in Europe! Man, this is a GREAT plan! Send an email to Condi right away! We’ll begin a boycott of Iran immediately, phew, that was close, for a minute I thought they were attempting to get to a point where they could nuke Israel, but with a boycott in place, we’ll be left alone in peace and zen. What a relief!
Why absolutely , why did we not think of it before ? elect BR he has all the answers..
Methinks that BR is a troll who keeps changing his pen name because he thinks he’s being clever. Don’t feed the trolls.
I would suggest for starters just calling them and asking them why they have made this decision and urge them to reconsider. Don’t be rude or threaten to boycott. Just ask for a reasonable explanation. There may actually be one.
By all means if you are in DC get down there tomorrow and show your support. If you aren’t then call the two phone #s available. The more people they hear from the more likely Frans will keep the doors open.
I called Fran O’Brien’s before I read this and they told me it wasn’t true!! What’s the real story?
She said they were re-negotiating a contract but not having trouble with Hilton.
I just want to know the truth…
I’m waiting for contact back from Fran O’Brien’s myself, which I why I’ve updated the story. No need to protest something until all the facts are in…
I am Hal’s daughter and he just told me the Hilton is not renegotiating with them. . they have not contacted him or the lawyers. SO the rumor is the renegotiation at least as of 2135 on 13 April 2006.
I also heard about this from over at http://www.campdoha.org. I hope a lot of people are able to come and show their support. Unfortunately I will have to be at work at that time so I can’t. 🙁 But I’m getting the word out!