Donald Trump Countersued by Restaurateur

     WASHINGTON (CN) – Donald Trump’s presidential campaign may have kicked off with racist remarks about Mexican immigrants, but celebrity chef Jose Andres maintains in a new countersuit that the speech killed any chance he had of running a profitable Spanish restaurant in a Trump-owned building.
     Andres planned to open a high-end Spanish-themed restaurant called Topo Atrio in Trump’s refurbished historic Old Post Office in Washington, D.C., but pulled out of the deal in July after Trump made racist remarks about immigrants during his presidential campaign announcement speech.
     “The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems,” Trump said in the speech on June 16. “It’s true. And these aren’t the best and the finest. When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. … They’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
     Soon after Trump made the comments, Andres faced pressure to withdraw from the project, including in the form of a Change.org petition that received 2,000 signatures. After the restaurateur did so on July 17, Trump’s group hit his company with a lawsuit .
     Trump Old Post Office LLC claimed Topo Atrio and ThinkFoodGroup, the group Andres heads, breached the terms of a sublease by pulling out of the deal.
     But in a countersuit filed Wednesday, Andres’ businesses deny most of Trump’s allegations and claim the original filing took parts of the sublease out of context.
     Trump’s comments made it all but impossible for Andres to run a profitable, high-end Spanish restaurant at the Trump Old Post Office, Topo Atrio and ThinkFoodGroup claim in the countersuit filed Wednesday in D.C. Superior Court.
     “The perception that Mr. Trump’s statements were anti-Hispanic made it very difficult to recruit appropriate staff for a Hispanic restaurant, to attract the requisite number of Hispanic food patrons for a profitable enterprise, and to raise capital for what was now an extraordinarily risky Spanish restaurant,” the complaint states.
     Trump’s statements and his unwillingness to walk them back “had a direct and averse effect” on the success of the restaurant, constituting a breach of contract, the Andres-backed groups claim in the complaint.
     Andres’ groups seek $8 million in damages to recoup the restaurant’s lost profits and a more than $250,000 line of credit they say Trump’s company took over improperly after Andres pulled out of the deal.
     The Washington Post first reported Andres’ cross-filing Thursday.
     Rebecca Woods, an attorney for Trump Old Post Office with the firm Seyfarth Shaw, did not respond to a request for comment.
     Steptoe Johnson attorney Brigida Benitez, who represents Topo Atrio and ThinkFoodGroup, declined to comment.

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