Skip to comments.Battle for Fran O'Brien's
Posted on 04/12/2006 5:41:50 PM PDT by radar101
This past Friday night I was privileged to visit Fran O'Brien's steakhouse in the Capitol Hilton, Washington, DC. Every Friday night, Hal Koster, the restaurant manager and Vietnam Vet, invites our wounded soldiers convalescing at nearby Walter Reed Army Center to a free steak dinner and drinks. It was supposedly a "slow" night for our heroes as many were on a ski trip in Colorado. But I walked into an absolutely packed room of wounded soldiers and their families enjoying a minor but well-deserved recognition for their service to our country.
I've also discovered since then that the Hilton Corporation will not be renewing the lease. Apparently, there are too many "liability issues" in accommodating American heroes in wheelchairs. In fact , the lease (and therefore the dinners) will expire in a few short weeks. If America had responded as we would in the past, this would be inconsequential really. Obviously we have not and it is a tragic commentary on today's PC-ness.
Please read the attached e-mail with more of the details.
Buzz Patterson Lieutenant Colonel, USAF (Retired)
Who knows? Maybe because they didn't know who they were talking to. In any event, the news is out, and verified. Hopefully the Hilton will continue to feel the heat of their decision as more concerned troop-supporting Americans make (polite) phone calls.
"In any event, the news is out, and verified. Hopefully the Hilton will continue to feel the heat of their decision as more concerned troop-supporting Americans make (polite) phone calls."
Agreed. I sent my letter today.
What the....this cannot be true. If that is the case, why the heck do we as a society even allow the challenged to even leave the house? There is a very profitable lawsuit here, I believe, not being a lawyer, if this is true and if you can prove that is the reason the party's lease in not being renewed.
Will do! This was a dreadful mistake on Hilton's part. Hopefully they will correct it ASAP.
Thanks for the ping. BTTT!
As a former manager of associations, this is a great idea. There should be many members of national associations at FR. Call your association executive or members of your board of directors and let them know that you will never stay at a Hilton-owned hotel when you attend a convention. Convention money is a hotel chains' foundation.
You're welcome. I just posted an updated article in breaking.
Period. end of quote.
Maybe Marriott will pick them up.
So it's the restaurant's fault? Nice.
Just think of Paris Hilton as the recipient of your money the next time you patronize a Hilton establishemnt.
Bkmrk and Bump
"Maybe they should get rid of Paris instead!"
The city? Or the dizzy blond? Or both?
The fact of the matter is that their ruse about wheelchair access is an illegal attempt to circumvent the Americans With Disabilities Act, and each and every disabled soldier who is negatively affected by this heartless decision by Hilton may well have a cause of action against Hilton. So by claiming that they are doing this to aviod lawsuits, they very well may have bought themselves a few hundred.
Apparently, there are too many "liability issues" in accommodating American heroes in wheelchairs.
I am pretty certain this could be challenged under the ADA.
Yes it is. The Department of Justice enforces the ADA in response to complaints. The guidline for construction in new and existing buildings is the ADAAG. It can be found in one of the CFR's. Wish I could remember which one.
Normally a wheel chair ramp must be sloped 1:12, in existing buildings because of space constraints this may be modified to 1:10.
I sure hope the DAV will see fit to file a complaint on behalf of the veterans.
Yes they are. States can write their own versions of ADA if the standards are stricter than the federal one. For example Florida requires a lavatory in H/C access bathroom stalls while the Fed regulations do not.
Information on ADA can be found at http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/ada/
No it is an american company with home office in Beverly HIlls... Hilton just reacquired its international operations after man years of being seperated...
How does the ADA prevent Hilton from not renewing a lease because of liability concerns?
Perhaps Hilton decided it would be too expensive to comply with ADA regulations and instead decided to close the place down. Should that be illegal, too? Should companies be forced to pay for ADA improvements even if it means they take a loss?
Realize THEY ARE FORCED to do so to protect their companies from LIABILITY LAWSUITS.
Blame CONGRESS for passing thousands of idiotic LAWS and REGULATIONS that have far surpassed any common sense.
I thought that all businesses had to provide disabled access regardless of the kind of business they had. Even restaurants in our small rural town have had to do it. This sounds peculiar.
I remember vividly. It was after WWII and up until 1967. After that the flower children came into vogue. Hate AUTHORITY, hate the Military [baby killers you know] and hate the NORMS that was the cohesive of our culture and society.
Walking the streets of St. Louis in uniform in 1962 and then coming home on leave after a tour in Vietnam in 1967 was like NIGHT and DAY. The stares and looks were palpable.
Sadly things only got worse for the Military man from then and IMHO today it is MUCH better because 911 changed many hearts and the feelings about our Military.
ooooo liability lawsuits ooooo.
Mr. Hancock, I strongly advise you that signing that document will expose you to legal action by King George.
Seems, at least from Hilton's claims, that this was standard business decision-making and Fran O'Briens is trying to "force" Hilton to renew the lease again rather than move to a new location.
Perhaps a standard business decision, but what most people here and in the MilBlogging community are concerned about is that the wounded soldiers don't get lost in the shuffle. If and when Fran O'Brien's re-opens at a new location, I have no doubt that they would continue their Friday Night Dinners for the soldiers. The problem is that there may be a several month period where the soldiers have nowhere to go. Awaiting more info...
Someone should notify Don Imus on this. He could shame Hilton into changing this around. He has visited the soldiers at Walter Reed and has been raising money for a new rehabilitation center.
He can be a liberal weenie at times, but on this subject I think he could help.
Buzz will be discussing Fran O's on the air (starting now).
Alan Nathan from 4-5 PM ET can be heard at:
Lars Larson from 6-6:30 PM ET can be heard at:
Pass it on...
A business not intent on conducting "corporate suicide" would have given the tenant 6 months or more of notice, had a contingency plan in place to support troops in another way (mitigating the PR disaster bound to ensure). This was NOT a business decision. It was a hasty reaction to something, probably led by an attorney.
The Dizzy Blond. The muslims will take care of the city for them.
like I said, I'm familiar with ADA as it is related to transit, not other entities, which is why I asked for clarification on ADA as it relates to buildings.
We (my line of work) have to (has to) comply with ADA, there is no "opt-out" option for us, we can't shut doors or decide not to renovate. We are funded by you, the taxpayer.
If Hilton wants to shut the place down because it would be too expensive to comply with ADA, that is their decision, which is fine.
I, as a consumer, won't stay in another Hilton brand hotel, considering my father is a veteran and my mother is disabled.
April 14, 2006
Hilton Responds to the Fran O'Brien's Matter
Someone I know and trust has been talking with representatives of the Capital Hilton over the past couple of days regarding the Fran O'Brien's eviction. As a result of those conversations, Brian Kelleher, General Manager of the Capital Hilton, called me this afternoon. He and I had a good conversation and he answered all of my questions. In fact, he's going to answer your questions too. More on that later.
I began by asking Kelleher to confirm that negotiations were over and that there is no way the two parties, Hilton and Fran O'Brien's, could come to an agreement, and he confirmed this to be true. Fran O'Brien's will indeed be moving out at the end of this month. Kelleher says that negotiations between the two "didn't gel". I hesitate to explore this area because corporate lease negotiations are difficult and none of us are privy to what happened behind the scenes. As painful as it is for us, because of our deep respect for Hal and Marty, sometimes good people are the victims of business decisions. Unfortunate, but a reality.
Kelleher claims that the eviction has nothing to do with the Friday night dinners, something that has been widely speculated. According to Kelleher, the Hilton would like to continue to host the dinners. He says that his staff have all of the logistics down, from getting the patients on/off the bus and into the restaurant to providing the security detail for them. He also says that his staff greets the bus each week, including himself when he's there, and that they are incredibly fond of the patients, which I'm sure is true. Because they have the routine down, and the soldiers are familiar with the staff, Kelleher says that the hotel is intent on continuing these dinners.
The Capital Hilton has agreed to host and pay for the May 5th dinner, so there will be no interruption for our troops. Beyond then, the Hilton has been in touch with some of the organizations which currently help sponsor the dinners at Fran O'Brien's, and he's hoping these groups will continue to do so. Kelleher also tells me that he has reached out to WRAMC and Deputy Secretary of Defense, Gordon England, and is awaiting direction from both of them with respect to next steps.
There is no question that the Capital Hilton has the space to accommodate our troops, and for some of them, given their injuries, privacy is a concern. Kelleher assures me that those concerns will be handled according to the wishes of our troops.
I told Kelleher that all of us in the military community feel an enormous amount of loyalty to Marty and Hal, the owners of Fran O'Brien's, and that we are protective of them. The perception is that Marty and Hal are not getting a fair shake. Now, I understand that it's difficult to separate the dinners from Marty and Hal, and I also understand the desire to crucify Hilton over this unwanted divorce, but the reality is, barring a miracle, the lease is not going to be renewed. So it seems to me, we have two missions. We need to be sure that these Friday night dinners continue -- permanently -- for the sake of our troops. Secondly, we want to do whatever we can to help and support Marty and Hal. With respect to the latter, Buzz Patterson, Matt and myself are working to get the ball rolling, beginning next week when MilBloggers will converge on our Nation's Capital.
I also asked Kelleher if there was anything that he's read or heard over the past few days that he wanted to clarify. He did say that some of the things that have been said about the Hilton Corporation are untrue, but didn't give specifics. He again reiterated that the decision not to renew O'Brien's lease had nothing to do with the Friday night dinners, therefore the speculation that this was a liability issue is untrue. What I failed to ask, and will follow up on, is if the Hilton Corporation planned to continue the dinners even before the controversy erupted. That's something I would like to know. I wasn't aware that Kelleher was going to call me, so I wasn't prepared to interview him. Which is fine, because he's giving you the opportunity to do just that.
I explained, as if Kelleher didn't already know, that there is a lot of anxiety and anger in the military community over this incident. I suggested that it might be a good idea to have Hilton agree to field questions. I asked him if I were to solicit questions from the MilBlog community and submit them to him, would he agree to answer them. To my surprise, he said yes. So now it's your turn, and I'm sure you'll do better than me. Leave your questions for Hilton in the comment section. (My note: Click on the link to Andi's blog at the top of this post, to submit a question to Mr. Kelleher) On Monday, I'll submit them to Brian Kelleher, and once he's answered them (hopefully without a PR filter being applied), I will post the answers. I will not submit questions that are obnoxious or have profanity in them, so keep the questions polite and on point. Direct and hard-hitting are fine, obnoxious won't fly.
I realize there are two sides to every story. We know that Marty and Hal wanted to stay, but other than that, we haven't heard much from them. I did call Hal, and have left my name and number. I will try to pursue this, get Fran O'Brien's version of events and see how we can help them.
This situation has highlighted the power of MilBlogs. When I asked Kelleher if he was familiar with MilBlogs, he responded, "oh yeah." It wasn't so much his answer that convinced me we were having an impact, it was the tone of his voice. My guess is that he didn't know what a MilBlog was this time last week. Kelleher also admitted that he is being inundated with email, so thanks to everyone for applying the pressure.
Play the reporter, and we'll see what happens.
Bloggers following developments:
Proud Army Mom
The Real Ugly American
(My note: And a whole bunch of other bloggers)
Posted by Andi C on April 14, 2006 at 07:30 PM | Permalink
Many corperate HQ's have been penetrated by left wing democrats.
We are calling this "Operation Perish Hilton" !!!!!
Hal was our guest on the radio program this morning. He is pleasant, down-to-earth, and we need to support him in any way we can...
2nd Lieutenant Conrad Hilton, U. S. Army (Ret.), must be turning over in his grave right now !!!!
The problem is the other nights. The place is a hangout for sleazy union types. The service sucks, the owner doesn't do anything about it, and there's a lot of suspicious activity. Guests won't go there and they complain about that, not the veterans.
When they bring in a new restaurant they plan to resume the dinners.
Perhaps some of the local freepers could verify or dispute this.
Yeah, he's probably somewhat biased. As, you admit, are you. What I presented is a different viewpoint, reasoning the Hilton could have that has zero to do with the dinners for the troops. There's a disclaimer at the end that the locals, such as yourself, can verify or dispute it. Which you did.
Hilton's on record as saying they will continue taking care of the injured troops and their families. If O'Brien's finds a new location, it sounds like they will too. Hopefully, not on the same night.
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