Manhattan restaurants vying to feed Barack Obama first

     Two Manhattan power restaurants, where sitting US presidents have dined for decades, have got entangled in a bitter battle over who will feed Barack Obama first. The current commander-in-chief has yet to eat at either of the Four Seasons and the '21' Club, both in Midtown. Managers at both restaurants are said to be slinging hash at each other to feed Obama first. "Politically speaking, the Four Seasons is a much better place for Mr. Obama than '21'," the New York Post quoted Four Seasons owner Julian Niccolini as saying. "It's a more progressive New York City restaurant. About 99 percent of our employees voted for him, and many of our customers gave a lot of money to him. I'm not saying that '21' is not an American restaurant, but the Four Seasons is a truly American experience," Niccolini added. Top brass at '21' also scoffed at their rival. "We've always been an American restaurant. I've always thought of the Four Seasons as being a Continental restaurant -- I'm not sure when they got all American," insisted '21' general manager Brian McGuire. Regarding the Four Seasons' claim that 99 percent of staffers voted for Obama, McGuire jeered: "Ask Julian who that 1 percent is . . . you might find out it's him." The '21' Club, a stuffy former speakeasy with a conservative "no jeans" policy, has fed every sitting president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt, until George W. Bush broke the 72-year streak. The Four Seasons, a white-linen dining hall established in 1959, started its own presidential run with John F. Kennedy. Both restaurants are presently asking powerful patrons to help them. While '21' has been promised by Senator Richard Durbin, who represents Obama's home state of Illinois, that he would help them in securing a presidential visit, the Four Seasons is also said to be recruiting power lunchers with political connections for help. The White House said that it would not comment in advance on Obama's dining schedule.

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