03 May, 2006

It Ain't Over...

Some interesting things are still going on in the Fran O'Brien's - Hilton saga.

First of all, reportedly there may have been ongoing lawyerly conversations between the parties as late as Tuesday, and more interestingly, an article by Lisa Hoffman last weekend mentioned that the American Legion had offered to help Capital Hilton pay for the installation of a new elevator. The cost of the elevator had been cited as one of the issues in development of a new lease for Fran's, with reports being that it was more than one year's worth of rent. Apparently that wasn't an idle offer by the Legion. On Tuesday morning the following was hand-delivered to Capital Hilton and faxed to the Chief Executive Officer at Hilton's corporate offices (I have a digital copy of it, but can't convert it to a graphic):

May 1, 2006

Mr. Brian Kelleher
General Manager
Capital Hilton Hotel
1001 16th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036

Dear Mr. Kelleher:

The leasing dispute between The Capital Hilton Hotel and Fran O’Brien’s Stadium Steakhouse has been brought to our attention. We understand the owner’s generously cater to the most severely wounded troops injured in the war on terror by providing them with free weekly steak dinners. We would like to see this tradition continue at Fran O’Brien’s.

While we aren’t privy to all the details, The American Legion would like to make The Hilton Corporation an offer in the best interest of these wounded heroes and their families who frequent the dinners at your hotel.

For two and a half years now, the owners of Fran O’Brien’s have offered up much more than free steak. This venue has become an important element to their long recovery from wounds most will have for the rest of their lives. This environment has provided mental and emotional healing we can’t see or put a price tag on.

We understand that the dispute between the Capital Hilton and Fran O’Brien’s is a monetary one. We will meet you half way [in] ending this dispute for one reason: Our wounded warriors and those who care for them deserve better. All parties involved are in a position to make this happen.

We will match 50 percent of the cost of an elevator to help bring Fran O’Brien’s and the Capital Hilton into ADA compliance (American Disabilities Act).

In the spirit of your founder and namesake Conrad Hilton, we would very much like to end this dispute and work together in a common cause also dear to Mr. Hilton’s heart as you can read from his 1968 statement below when he agreed to be a member of The American Legion’s 50th Anniversary National Prestige Advisory and Entertainment Advisory Committees.

Conrad was a charter member of Post 58 in El Paso, Texas and held continuous membership until his death in 1979.

“I am a charter member of Post 58 at El Paso, Texas, and have always considered it a privilege to belong to an organization which has made so many contributions to the Nation and to the welfare of my fellow veterans. I am proud of the fact that shortly after World War I, I helped organize Post 58 at El Paso, Texas, and have maintained my membership in The American Legion continuously since then. The World War I veterans who founded The American Legion created, not just an organization of veterans, but a vigorous defender of basic American principles of justice, freedom, and equality of opportunity. I am proud to have been a charter member of my Post.”

Conrad N. Hilton

We hope to work with The Hilton Corporation in the interests of those who have paid a heavy price for our continued way of life, and we hope you accepted our offer to release some of the financial burden for both parties and install an elevator in The Capital Hilton.


National Commander

Copy to:
Stephen F. Bollenback
Chief Executive Officer
The Hilton Corporation

People associated with the Friday Nights at Fran's passed this letter on with with the request that we continue to keep the pressure on Hilton. You can sign the petition here.

Email accounts have been overwhelmed/blocked, but you can use the Hilton Honors address: hhonors@hilton.com. Also, you can reach CEO Stephen F Bollenbach at 310-205-4656 and Director of Communications Lisa Cole at 305-503-6503 or 786-866-7567. Please encourage them to consider the American Legion's offer.

If anyone has any more good contact info, please share it in the comments.