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the Hilton Corporation - Where a Steak is just a steak

Day By Day by Chris Muir

Background:  This started with Have You Ever Been to Fran O'Brien's on a Friday Night?

I've been tracking a lot of conversations (well, some are turning into arguments) about the Hilton cancelling the lease of Fran O'Brien's.  Many believe it to be simply business as usual.  Others see both pros and cons of either keeping Fran O'Brien's in the Hilton family or relocating it somewhere else in DC.

It's an emotional issue for some of us.  In Fran O'Brien's, we have a successful restaurant business run by Vietnam Vets - the generation that served before mine - that ensures that our wounded young men and women have a place to go and have a nice steak dinner on a Friday night, free of charge.  It's a very welcome and supportive place for our wounded troops run by very caring people.  I've been there.  So have many of you.

Now, some people are saying that you could have someone else provide the steak dinners, say, with a voucher system or something.

From the WashPo:

...The Hilton has offered to help take over the Friday night dinner tradition. Management has suggested the dinners could move to a ballroom or the hotel's other restaurant, Twigs.

"Twigs? Nah, . . . they don't get it. It's not just about a place and some food," he said. "I have these guys' numbers in my cellphone. I talk to them. We check on them. Hal picks them up. . . . He brings them milkshakes."

Of course, atmosphere might have something to do with the appeal to veterans. O'Brien's is a virile place, with deep red booths and a long, polished bar. Sports memorabilia everywhere. A longtime hangout for Redskins players. The pool tournament on television. American flags on the walls.

Some veterans have called it the first place where they've felt at home since they left the battlefield and months of sterile hospitals...

Again, simply put, it would not be the same environment as Fran O'Brien's.  Most of you get it.  After all, that's why you're here reading this blog.  But a lot of people don't.  Or they take the easy road where they rationalize a business decision.

And, the fact that there are Vietnam Vets running the op pretty much seals the deal for me.  I owe 'em.  They did a hell of job and they're still serving their country - small spheres of influence again.

So.  You can disagree with me, examine leases, talk big business talk all you want.  Maybe it's about ADA issues (probably is), maybe not.

For me, it's personal.  It's damn personal.  While I hope that this can be resolved for everyone's benefit (especially our wounded troops), I doubt that the Hilton Corporation understands the reaction that they are going to cause.

I doubt that they see it coming...which is exactly why Fran O'Brien's needs to stay where it is and keep doing what's been doing for years - taking care of their customers and their country.