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Dining with Donald

Much like a Vedic hymn, Donald Trump repeated over and over again that, if elected President, he planned to run the country like he runs his business. In the aggregate that may mean a theoretical framework of economic devices such as cost cutting – a la Air Force One (cancel it – too expensive!) – or it may mean knowing when to cut your losses and pull out.  And while these big picture philosophies are noteworthy — let’s face it — the devil is frequently found in the details. Now that Trump is the 45th President, it seems an opportune time to analyze just how the new President will run the country by looking carefully at one of his businesses enterprises.

So, when an invitation arrived to dine at 1100 Pennsylvania Avenue, the address of Trump International Hotel, my quick reply was yes, yes, yes. This decision is not made lightly in Washington, D.C. where the appetizer to any dining experience in the District is usually an hour-and-a-half of bumper to bumper traffic.

It goes without saying that this is not the Style section of the Washington Post. Nor am I a restaurant critic along the lines of Ruth Reichl, Frank Bruni or Pete Wells. But it does seem that a compelling case can be made for seeing up-close and personal just what a Trump operation looks, feels, smells and tastes like and how that might translate to his presidency. His businesses are, after all, our best way of assessing the man.

Having never set foot on Trump property, nor viewed a single episode of The Apprentice, this dining experience was, if nothing, a remarkable experience.  Indeed, if the President-elect plans to operate this country along the lines of Trump International in Washington, D.C. then hope and change might have been a more fitting campaign slogan for him rather than Barack. It will be a stark paradigm shift of larger-than-life proportions.  Would you expect anything less from The Donald?

But before we get to that, it seems only fitting that a pause is in order to review what was repeatedly said, or better yet — pounded into our heads — from the venerated MSM about Trump, the businessman.

From Michelle Celarier of Daily Intelligencer:

… if Trump hoped his campaign would elevate the value of his brand, it looks like just the opposite is happening.

Celarier also shared this tweet from the esteemed Mark Cuban:

Every single @realDonaldTrump hotel and golf course is toast. Done. Over. Bernie Madoff now has a better brand.

— Mark Cuban (@mcuban) October 8, 2016

More of the same can be found here, here and here. One could fill the entire page with the incessant hammering the Trump brand took in the last year, but you get the idea.

Now, onto the Trump business as it compares to just how he will run the country. Admittedly a small sampling, but worth a brief examination:

Welcome aboard minorities: From the bellman to the captain to just about everyone in between, the majority of Trump International workers were minorities. After a while, we began to scan the hotel for some employee, any employee — who was not an African-American, or of Asian or Latin or Indian descent. If a Trump Administration has in mind such diversity for the country, then he is serious about being inclusive and producing jobs for our struggling inner cities.  D.C. is certainly emblematic of the downtown poverty, crime and jobless epidemic all over the country.

Quality without the rip-off prices: The Trump Chardonnay, which was priced at twelve dollars a glass was actually quite good. As a comparison here in Northern Virginia, we routinely pay ten dollars for run-of-the-mill wine at the local pub. A steak dinner at Trump International ranges from $39-54 – not bad for the big city.  The food was excellent, the service excellent and the atmosphere stunning. Food, service, and atmosphere are the trifectas of any quality dining experience, and Trump International had it all going on in three out of three categories. Even the cranky reviewers at Trip Advisor give the place four out of five stars. So there just might be hope for the federal government to deliver quality services at an affordable price tag. The template for that at least exists.

Tradition with a flair for today: The Old Post Office Pavilion is an iconic edifice in Washington. Remarkably it is still there: the girders, the clock tower, the spires. The new hotel carries a feel for the historic but now emerges as a very pleasing – if not grand – contemporary structure. The hotel bills itself as “Luxury reimagined. History reawakened.” That about says it, folks. If the President-elect can translate that reverence for American history with a 21st-century twist in building new bridges, roadways, and airports, we will have exorcized the crumbling, disintegrating decay that has taken over large swaths of America from Detroit to Scranton.

Without a doubt, there will be bumps in the road ahead as Donald Trump tries to pull this nation out of decades-long neglect and abuse of power. It will be quite the heave-ho. Places like Trump International in D.C. don’t spring up overnight.  They take imagination, planning, and high-quality execution. But with a little bit of good old-fashioned Yankee ingenuity and a lot of hard work, there will be plenty to anticipate regarding our cities and towns — for our nation and our children.

Read More From Leesa K. Donner

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