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Under normal circumstances, it would be just another garden-variety lease dispute. But the turmoil surrounding the Hilton Hotels Corp.’s decision to boot Fran O’Brien’s Stadium Steakhouse from its 10-year spot in the Capital Hilton basement goes beyond that. Since 2003, O’Brien’s has hosted upward of 150 vets from the Walter Reed prosthetics center for a free Friday-night steak dinner. Now those dinners — and O’Brien’s itself — are in jeopardy. “We’ve been talking to the Hilton for three years about getting the lease renewed,” says Fran’s son and co-owner Marty O’Brien, who wants to exercise his five-year renewal option on the lease. “And we’ve had good conversations, up to a month ago.” That was when the Hilton provided a one-page eviction notice that takes effect May 1. Hilton spokeswoman Lisa Coles says O’Brien’s failed to keep up its end of the lease agreement, refusing to make several repairs. And, Coles adds, they owe on the rent. But O’Brien’s lawyer, Paul O’Reilly of Rockville, Md.-based O’Reilly & Mark, says the restaurant is current on its rent and Hilton owes O’Brien’s $40,000 from hotel customers who have charged their O’Brien’s meals to their rooms. “No other restaurant in the U.S. is doing what they’re doing for Iraqi vets,” says O’Reilly. “If they file a complaint for possession, we’ll file the appropriate motions to contest.”
T.R. Goldman can be contacted at [email protected].

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