The owner of Maggiano's, an Italian restaurant in Washington, D.C., has issued an apology and is pledging to donate $10,000 after hosting an event sponsored by a white nationalist organization, BuzzFeed News reports.
On Friday, the restaurant served as the location for a conference held by the National Policy Institute, an "alt-right" think tank dedicated to the advancement of people of European descent in the U.S.
If this all sounds like euphemism for white supremacy and neo-Nazism, the controversy first began to circulate online after the reality TV star Tila Tequila posted a photo of herself at the NPI function on Twitter. Above a caption that reads "Sieg Heil!," Tequila and two men could be seen raising the Nazi salute. Tequila, who has long drawn criticism for her racist remarks on social media, later told the website the Tab that they were doing the Roman salute—not a gesture most closely associated with Adolf Hitler and the murder if 6 million Jews—and just "trolling around."
On Monday, Maggiano's issued a statement on Facebook expressing its regret over the incident, and claiming it was oblivious to the group's alt-right ties. According to the restaurant, the reservation was a last minute booking, and made under a different name.
"The 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 backgrounds," the restaurant wrote in its statement. "We want to sincerely apologize to the community of Friendship Heights for inadvertently hosting this meeting, which resulted in hateful sentiment."
In the wake of the controversy, which also saw anti-Fascists protesters picket outside during the conference, the owner of Maggiano's said he would make a sizable donation to the Anti-Defamation League, an organization known for combating anti-Semitism.