Leslie's Omnibus

Another Shot Across the Bow

I have apparently come to the attention of some folks high up at Hilton Hotels Corporation. (Don't ever let anyone tell you that a letter writing campaign doesn't work. I'm proof positive that it does!)

I'm posting Marc Grossman's response as a .jpg file:

(Click to embiggen.)




















Since he asks that I be open-minded, I'll oblige. I have a couple of questions for Mr. Grossman, for which I am no politely asking for answers:

1. How does Hilton respond to Fran O'Brien's owners' assertion that the money Hilton owed Fran's for providing room service to Capital Hilton guests was in excess of rents FO'B's owed to the Capital Hilton?

2. I have heard/read that FO'B's was required to upgrade carpeting/upholstery in the restaurant under the terms of the lease, but this is the first I've heard of fire and health safety issues. Can you cite specific examples?

3. Is is reasonable to expect that tenants would put substantial sums of money into upgrading a rental property when the landlord has made it clear that lease renewal is unlikely to happen? Why wasn't this negotiated into the terms of renewal?

4. Why has Hilton not yet made the entrance to that restaurant handicapped accessible? Why wasn't this done years ago?

I have a lot more questions, but I'm going to put this out there to my readers. What questions do you have that this letter does not answer? Send me an email or drop'em in the comments and I'll send them to Mr. Grossman.
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Update: Welcome Blackfive readers!
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Update: Welcome MilBlogs readers! In addition, Smash reminds us which properties are owned by the Hilton Family of brands.
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Leslie

16 comments:

Nancy said...

My My My

You seem to have hit a nerve within the Hilton Management.

Wooo

We are Bloggers, Hear Us Roar!

Anonymous said...

Posting a link to this at Blackfive, maybe beyond. Stand by for questions and info, I hope. Pour it on!

LW

74 said...

I'm curious if there are any other areas in the hotel that have not yet been upgraded to ADA standards. My wife and I are owners of a business located in a building we do not own. OUR lease makes it plain that ANY structral modifications to the building must be performed by the owner. That provision protects the landlord from any substandard improvements made by the tenant that they may end up being accountable for. On the other hand, we are protected from liability the owner may incur from failure to meet building codes, etc. If an owner puts a considerable amount of money into improvements, that is reason to renegotiate when the lease is up. However, coercion of tenants before the lease is up is despicable in my view.

thebronze said...

Grossman's account of what happened in this situation appears to be a complete lie!

Read the account of a volunteer at FOB's named Andrew in this post at Smash's:

http://www.indepundit.com/archive2/2006/04/fran_obriens_up.html


Also see this further account (with the actual numbers) from this site:

http://savefrans.org/FOSCExplanation.doc

Grossman is trying to scam everyone into believing that FOB's were the bad guys.

Bullshit!

Grossman is a liar.

Some Soldier's Mom said...

well, yes. I have a few questions:

Does Hilton have the "you are in arrears" notices in writing?

Does Hilton have the health and safety violations in writing?

What does the lease say about ADA modifications?

Is Hilton in arrears with any other of its lessees of funds it may owe them?

Is it standard Hilton practice to terminate a lease when there is an ongoing dispute of arrears between landlord and tenant?

ragingmom said...

Have any of the veterans taken the Hilton up on their offer for dinner? Because if they haven't, I'm thinking it's not so much about "using veterans to advance their agenda" as the vets know the Hilton is covering its ass big time.

David said...

FOB;

At some point in time documents will need to be produced detailing monies owed FOB for providing room service and rental monies owed by FOB to Hilton.

The paper trail will put paid to the false assumptions by Hilton HQ.
It is possbile that the complete story is not being presented to the front office.

Hilton is bluffing. They have much to lose in this case as opposed to the aggrieved FOB/Veterans.

Additionally, a written statement from the local manager should be provided by him detailing his support for FOB beyond the one-trick-pony show when the cameras were on site.

I think a lawsuit is in order to put this issue to rest one war or another. Hilton and its many properties would probably want to avoid a serious confrontation.

The facts in this case will not stand up to the harsh light of scrutiny. The gloves need to come off to support Veterans, FOB's, and the web logs Hilton is not so subtly holding in contempt.

Time to show Hilton and others of their ilk the strength and majesty of our various milblogs.

Shep said...

Wow, you really kindled a fire. Nice going all around, and I'm impressed with your in-depth knowledge of the ancillary facts regarding this. Bravo!

Andy said...

I can pretty much guarantee that the claim of health violations is a blatant lie. Read the evidence and analysis on my site here:

http://www.nonpartisanpundit.com/2006/05/proof_that_hilt.html

OhioAnne said...

My questions:

As an experienced management professional, I am well aware of the back and forth that can occur during negotiations. Therefore, I would like to focus on those issues that you have not disputed.

1. How long has Hilton Hotel's been in severe financial difficulties? How critical is that situation? Is the Capital Hilton the only hotel in your chain in danger of closing or is the situation far worse?

Why I believe that you are ...
*You are demanding your vendors wait 4-6 months for payment while simultaneously demanding those same vendors pay you monthly. That is a clear sign of a cash flow problem.

*The escalator access had been broken for 6 years. No financial planning cycle that I have ever heard of waits 6 years to deal with a situation like that - especially in what should be a 4-5 star hotel.

*You have chosen to not make your hotels handicap accessible. The costs can be high to do so, but, obviously, you losing a major amount of business to the community with disabilities as well as people, like me, who find your decision morally repugnant.

*You demanded that the owners of the restaurant make the upgrades to carpet, etc., without a signed lease. That is clearly a desperate measure. No rational businessman would accept that deal and no rational businessman would expect him to do so.

*You failed to make and implement a plan to be involved in the dinners prior to evicting Fran O'Brien's. Had you been involved all along, the owners couldn't make the dinner an issue. The situation you currently find yourself in should have been anticipated and dealt with prior to the eviction.

From a business perspective, supporting the dinners is a no-brainer. As manager of the Hilton - if the Hilton cared and there were no financial difficulties - I would have made one of the Hilton staff a liasion to the restaurant's efforts and started helping to underwrite their costs at least 2 years ago. The veterans community is a huge customer base and a very loyal one.

The only reason I can think of you not to deal with this situation upfront - other than rank imcompetence and/or a dislike of the veterans themselves - is that you literally didn't have the money to do so.

*You continued to heavily advertise Fran O'Brien's restaurant even after you evicted them. Now you claim that it was a safety and health disaster waiting to happen. Whatever remaining dollars you could have gotten from their business clearly outweighed your concern about the health and safety of those customers you willingly sent to Fran O'Brien's - or, there were no serious health and saftety violations.

2. What have you done for veterans SINCE evicting Fran O'Brien's? I know what you offered - what have you done?

OhioAnne said...

Something just occurred to me ...

Is it possible that he is referring to the injured veterans themselves when he says "numerous health and safety violations present in the restaurant"? We all assumed he was talking about what the Health Department or Fire Department would cite - what if that's not what he is referring to?

In event of a fire during one of the Friday night dinners, getting the wounded veterans out safely would be problematic and the Hilton - due to their lack of ADA compliance - would be liable for any further injuries.

What was he referring to?

Laurie said...

In addition to this question: 1. How does Hilton respond to Fran O'Brien's owners' assertion that the money Hilton owed Fran's for providing room service to Capital Hilton guests was in excess of rents FO'B's owed to the Capital Hilton?

I would ask, why have they not responded to this by now?

I am eagerly awaiting a response to all of these questions. OhioAnne has some excellent ones.

David said...

We need to 'lawyer up' and hold Hilton Management's feet to the fire. Any pro bono folks out there from JAG?

Like the man said, this is personal and we all need to rally to the cause.

Connecting the dots makes we wonder about the timing of Murtha's leap to judgment regarding the investigation into the Haditha incident, continued violations of the Solomon ammendment by College Universities, and now the business community acting in an anti-military manner.

Mark White said...

The most important question is "What will Hilton Corporation do if it turns out Brian Kelleher has been lying to their management as well as anyone else he talks to?" The only acceptable answer is "Evict Brian Kelleher, Restore Fran O'Brien's!"

Andi said...

There was a lengthy comment left on Greyhawk's post at Milblogs:

http://www.mudvillegazette.com/milblogs/2006/05/19/#004833

The comment disputes the assertions in Mr. Grossman's letter:

"Fran O'Brien's wasn't cited with any health code violations. I spoke with the owner two hours ago about this. He has records. As a frequent customer and Army veteran volunteer at the Friday Night Dinners for the wounded troops, the Hilton Corporation is believing the BS that lower, local management is telling them. Capital Hilton General Manager Brian Kelleher lied to my face when I question him on a few things. Also, the Hilton owes the restaurant owners $60,000-PLUS in room charges that are more than 120 day old. The reason the owners stopped paying their $12,500 rent is because the Hilton still hasn't paid them $60,000+. The owner told the Hilton to deduct their rent from what the Hilton owed them and STILL owes them. All the health code stuff is made up."

Mr. Grossman does say that the health violations were in clear violation "of the lease". Can he please let us know what those violations were? The commenter also claims that Fran's wasn't treated well by the Hilton:

"I hope Hilton Senior Vice President Marc Grossman has good legal representation. His letter to Leslie Spiller is so full of lies. He's a foolish man for listening to his local people.
I wonder if Mr. Grossman knows about the piles trash the Hilton put behind Fran's service door, among other stunts. Or the water leak from the Hilton restaurant above Fran O'Brien's that made Fran's lose business."

The comment implies that the corporate level hasn't heard the true story. Has someone above Brian Kelleher been communicating with the owners of Fran's, or were all decisions and communications handled at the local level? If that's the case, wouldn't it be wise for someone from the corporate level to meet with Hal and Marty and get their side of the story?

I would appreciate it if Mr. Grossman could please address the points made by this commenter, who claims to be associated with the Fran's dinners.

Anonymous said...

I know this is a relatively old issue now, but just wanted to let you know that the Vet dinners are still going on every month at the Capital Hilton and many of original if not all of the vet staff attend as well.

DVA and other groups also continue to use the property for meetings and events as well.