On her great post about the history and impact of Friday Nights at Fran's, Cassandra has adds a comment that distills the entire Fran's-Hilton issue and why so many of us are upset by Hilton's behavior:
On the other hand, their rationalization that the vets are welcome to keep coming to a dining room is a bit facile. I think anyone, thinking about this for two seconds, is going to realize that free steaks is not what drew these guys out of their hospital rooms. It was the fact that Jim Mayer and Hal Koster had been through war too: that they knew what these guys had gone through: a shared experience. These guys could get a steak at any club. What they can't get is the cameraderie and the shared experience of seeing vets 30 years down the road who have turned it around. *That* is, IMO, what makes this event so valuable. The people, not some dumb slab of meat and a free drink.Exactly.
That Hilton can't see this just kind of stuns me. And why they wouldn't, if there is some kind of bad blood between them and Fran's, try to put that aside in the interest of helping these vets out, is something I can't understand.
They don't have to continue indefinitely to lease to the restaurant. But why not put their resources behind trying to find a new home for Fran's? It's in their best interest, PR-wise, and they would be doing a good work.
Do they have a duty to do it? No.
Would it be the *right* thing? I think so.
Is it a smart business decision? Absolutely. Even if you assume they hate Fran's and bear them some grudge, they would be taking the moral high ground away from them and, in the process, doing the right thing by some men who have given a lot for this country. But instead they have decided to dig in their heels. I think they are fighting the wrong battle to defend the wrong principle.
That more than anything else, is what made me decide to write about this. I don't understand that kind of cynicism.
This is kind of a no-brainer, whether you come at it from a Machievellian or a moralistic point of view, and either way, Hilton comes up short.
[Background on the Fran O'Brien's story here.]