The Most Difficult Part Of Working At BLT Prime During The Trump Presidency

For restaurant employees whose job is to please wealthy patrons who expect to be pampered, fine dining is hard work in the best of circumstances. And if you worked at BLT Prime, just a few blocks from the White House and the only D.C. restaurant Donald Trump ever visited as president, your job was that much harder (via Washingtonian). Staff needed to cater to Trump's peculiar whims, of course, whenever he was seated at a table permanently reserved for him. His Diet Coke had to be served just so, and his own personal ketchup bottle had to be unsealed in front of him to prove no one else had used it. BLT Prime's employees also needed to go out of their way to please Trump's friends, family, and allies — everyone from Ivanka Trump to the MyPillow guy.

Of course this kind of preening attentiveness comes with the job description at fine-dining establishments, whether you're in D.C., serving a lot of men in $10,000 suits, or in L.A. making the Hollywood elite feel special. Some BLT workers were compensated well, too. One bartender made more than $100,000 a year in tips. But a recent tell-all published in the Washingtonian describes the unique set of challenges that came with working at BLT Prime, inside the swanky Trump International Hotel.

Donald Trump's friends joked about wearing face masks

The fancy restaurant that became the personal dining room for Trump and his people, took the concept of VIP list to a whole new level. "I've worked in a few fine-dining places, but I've never worked somewhere where the VIP list was just so crazy," former BLT assistant general manager, Alyssa O'Clock, told the Washingtonian. Staff needed to get the number of olives right in a certain Trump allies martini and make sure they had complimentary champagne ready when the White House chief of staff and his wife showed up. 

Employees also endured abuse from the public because they worked at a Trump property. One manager said joggers gave him the finger when he took a break on the hotel terrace, and Metro passengers yelled at him when he wore his uniform on the way to work. He quit. Some Trump supporters didn't want to wear face masks during the COVID-19 pandemic, which drove at least one BLT Prime employee to the verge of tears. 

Statistics show that restaurant workers are among the highest-risk groups for infection (via Personnel Today). "People are dying, and you're joking about having to wear a mask," the employee said (via Washingtonian). After the 2020 election was all but decided, BLT Prime employees realized they would face one final difficulty: unemployment. Between COVID-19 and Trump's defeat, BLT Prime was losing its luster. "We're all going to probably have to find other jobs," one employee said.