News & Politics

DC Restaurant Apologizes for Hosting White-Nationalist Dinner and Donates Proceeds to Charity

Photograph by Flickr user m01229.

A Northwest DC restaurant that hosted a banquet last Friday night by a white-nationalist organization says it is apologizing for taking the reservation and donating the proceeds from that meal to the Anti-Defamation League.

Protestors swarmed Maggiano’s Little Italy in Chevy Chase on Friday night after it was discovered that members of the National Policy Institute—which hosted a conference Saturday for members of the “alt-right” movement basking in Donald Trump‘s election as president—were eating there. The National Policy Institute, a tiny, Arlington-based outfit listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a white-supremacist group, has become more public in the wake of Trump’s political rise along with the rest of the alt-right.

Steve Bannon, the Breitbart News executive whom Trump named as his chief strategist in the White House, has also boasted of turning the right-wing media organization into a “platform” for the alt-right movement, although Bannon has described himself as an “economic nationalist.”

The National Policy Institute’s 38-year-old chairman, Richard Spencer, was recently banned from Twitter, along with other white-nationalist leaders. During Saturday’s conference, he described the United States as a “a white country designed for ourselves and our posterity” and made several statements deriding Jews and other minority groups.

The dinner and conference, which included the likes of one-time Myspace star Tila Tequilaincluded instances of organizers making Nazi salutes and proclamations such as “Heil victory.” In a message posted on Facebook on Monday, Maggiano’s management writes that the restaurant booked the National Policy Institute unwittingly, but would not have if it knew what the group stands for.

“This was a last minute booking made Friday afternoon, and the reservation was made under a different name, therefore we were not aware that NPI was dining with us or what the group represents,” the post reads. “After the event, an attendee sent a tweet in which she made a ‘Sieg Heil salute’ in support of Hitler and white supremacy. This expression of support of Hitler is extremely offensive to us, as our restaurant is home to Teammates and Guests of every race, religion and cultural background.”

Brinker International, which owns the 51-location Maggiano’s chain, did not respond to requests for comment on Friday’s scene.

The post goes on to read that Maggiano’s plans to donate the profits from its restaurant sales—which it pegs at $10,000—to the Washington chapter of the Anti-Defamation League. The ADL has recently undertaken a campaign to combat online hate speech and is has opposed Bannon’s appointment to a White House role.

UPDATE, 6:02 PM: Heather Gillies, the assistant regional director for the ADL’s Washington chapter, confirms to Washingtonian that Maggiano’s has promised a $10,000 donation. “It’s very thoughtful of Maggiano’s to turn this negative incident into a positive action,” she says.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.