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Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump's visit brought unusual media attention to downtown Rochester restaurant

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, the daughter and son-in-law of former President Donald Trump, were spotted in downtown Rochester on Monday by a Post Bulletin photographer as well as a TMZ celebrity spotter. Kushner and Trump walked through downtown on a bright early evening for their evening meal at the Bleu Duck Kitchen. They smiled and joked with the PB photographer as they passed on the sidewalk.

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump
Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump walk through downtown Rochester on Monday, Aug. 8, 2022.
Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin
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ROCHESTER — As the home of Mayo Clinic, Rochester residents are used to seeing famous faces on the street. However, a recent visit by a high-profile political couple made more of a public splash than usual.

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, the daughter and son-in-law of former President Donald Trump, were noticed in downtown Rochester on Monday by a Post Bulletin photographer as well as a TMZ celebrity spotter. They served as White House advisors to Trump during his term as president.

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The couple were in Rochester for a medical checkup concerning Kushner’s thyroid cancer, according to a Daily Mail article. Kushner wrote about his cancer diagnosis and treatment in his new memoir, “Breaking History.”

Many well-known people like the Dalai Lama, U2 singer Bono, actor Gerard Butler and many world leaders regularly visit Rochester. Most tend to keep a low profile during their stays.

Kushner and Trump walked through downtown on a bright early evening from the new Hilton hotel for their evening meal at the Bleu Duck Kitchen . They smiled and joked with the PB photographer as they passed him on the sidewalk.

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Having candid photos of the couple in the restaurant as well as the ones of them walking after the meal caught the attention of the national/international media and spurred calls to the Bleu Duck about the visit.

That put the Bleu Duck staff in an awkward situation, because the restaurant prides itself on the privacy of its guests.

“In all honesty, I just feel like they're normal people that shouldn’t be talked about, especially like, what they're eating and how they were and stuff like that,” said co-owner Jennifer Lester. “I kept it very simple for reporters that called. They were just a cordial couple enjoying a good dinner. I'm not gonna go into details of what they ate or anything like that”

The Bleu Duck, a popular spot in downtown Rochester, is familiar with having celebrities of all types popping in, often unexpectedly. In this case, Kushner and Trump did make a reservation and sat at a window table in the bustling dining room.

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump
Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump walk through downtown Rochester on Monday, Aug. 8, 2022.
Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin

Coincidentally, the couple's downtown Rochester dinner and stroll happened on the same day that the FBI raided Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago mansion in Florida. That increased the media scrutiny to the chagrin of the Bleu Duck staff.

“Most of these people who come to Rochester just want to go out to eat and not have people taking pictures of them. And they're here, obviously, for Mayo Clinic. And that's usually not a good thing. So we try to give them as much privacy as possible and we just do our thing,” said Lester. “We always try to treat every customer the same. We don't dwell on it. We don't take pictures. We don't ask for their autographs. We don't do any of that. We just let them dine and have their space. We were fortunate enough that they chose us.”

Jeff Kiger tracks business action in Rochester and southeastern Minnesota every day in "Heard on the Street." Send tips to jkiger@postbulletin.com or via Twitter to @whereskiger . You can call him at 507-285-7798.

Jeff Kiger writes a daily column, "Heard Around Rochester," in addition to writing articles about local businesses, Mayo Clinic, IBM, Hormel Foods, Crenlo and others. He has worked in Rochester for the Post Bulletin since 1999. Send tips to jkiger@postbulletin.com or via Twitter to @whereskiger . You can call him at 507-285-7798.
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