WASHINGTON - A popular Washington D.C. restaurant has apologized for hosting a white nationalist group event on Friday night. Maggiano's Little Italy said it was duped into hosting the group, which brought protesters out in force to counter-demonstrate the group.
Maggiano's Little Italy president Steve Provost said he felt it was necessary to issue an apology after the National Policy Institute, a white nationalist group that coined the term "alt-right," gathered at the restaurant for a banquet. The restaurant said it had no idea who the group was because it did not identify itself as the National Policy Institute, made the reservation under a different name and claimed they were gathering for a family reunion.
Provost told FOX 5 in addition to apologizing to the community for hosting the alt-right group, they wanted to make a concrete gesture to show how opposed they are to the National Policy Institute. Maggiano's Little Italy said it is donating $10,000, the profits from the restaurant sales from that night, to the Anti-Defamation League, an anti-hate group.
Outside of the restaurant Friday night, about 30 people showed up to protest the National Policy Institute gathering when they learned the group was upstairs at the popular Italian restaurant.
Reality television star Tila Tequila, an alt-right supporter, tweeted a picture of herself and others giving a Nazi salute inside the restaurant with the caption "Seig heil!" She also tweeted a photo of herself outside the Trump International Hotel writing, "Taking over! "It's our world now! #DealWithIt"
The National Policy Institute is listed as a hate-group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Maggiano's Little Italy said while the protest was peaceful outside, some protesters came inside restaurant and caused a disruption. At that point, management decided to shut the entire restaurant down for the night.
On its Facebook page, the restaurant wrote:
"On Friday night, Maggiano's in Friendship Heights was the inadvertent site of a protest that caused us to close our restaurant to protect the safety of our Teammates and Guests.
The protesters were upset because of a banquet we were hosting for a group called the National Policy Institute (NPI). 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. 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.
We want to sincerely apologize to the community of Friendship Heights for inadvertently hosting this meeting, which resulted in hateful sentiment. We want you to know that at the suggestion of one of our Guests, we are donating the profits from our restaurant sales on Friday, $10,000, to the DC office of the Anti-Defamation League, which for decades has been working to bring people together in peace and understanding."
The presidential inauguration is two months away, and John Tomlinson, former deputy assistant director of the U.S. Secret Service, told FOX 5 that while security officials will have to accommodate rival protest groups, it will also have to insure those protests do not turn into street fights.
"It's equally important to keep those demonstrating groups separate and apart so that they both have their own platform without it resorting in violence or the potential for violence," said Tomlinson.