The owners of Cork Wine Bar and Cork Market & Tasting Room in Washington D.C are suing President Trump on the grounds that his ownership of Trump International Hotel constitutes unfair competition.
Khalid Pitts and Diane Gross.
Khalid Pitts and Diane Gross filed their lawsuit against the President and his hotel company on Wednesday. They do not seek damages, but wish to prevent the hotel from operating whilst Trump is in charge of it.
According to Pitts and Gross, Cork Wine Bar hosts political fundraisers, receptions and dinners as well as regular wine tasting events, open to the pubic. They argue that hosting foreign embassies at the hotel and Trump’s appearances there, together with endorsements from White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, mean that their business is adversely affected.
“We have events we do here for elected officials, nonprofits, foreign dignitaries, the World Bank, law firms,” Gross said.
“Those folks are now being courted to come and want to go there because they see it as advantageous to them to curry favour with the president. We do lose bookings sometimes and nobody ever gives you a reason,” she added.
Trump’s son, Eric, has called the suit “a publicity stunt.”
The Cork Wine Bar opened in January 2008 in what was previously a run-down area of town. Following its success, the couple opened The Cork Market and Tasting Room in December 2009.
According to the website, the wine bar offers ‘at least 50 wines by the glass and 250 bottles from small producers around the world.’ The market, meanwhile, offers fresh food from local, small producers and hosts regular tastings, classes and other specialist events.
Since opening, more than 24 restaurants have opened in the surrounding neighbourhood.
“We don’t mind competition. The whole D.C dining scene is exploding and we are friends with half the businesses on this block,” Gross said. “It’s really about the unfairness of it.”
The Trump International Hotel opened in September 2016 in Washington’s old post office. The hotel features 263 rooms, with a bar, lounge and spa.