Bono and the Obamas Brunch in the Big Apple — and Get a Standing Ovation
Barack and Michelle Obama had lunch with U2 frontman and activist Bono in New York City on Friday.
The trio sat in a private dining room downstairs at Upland in Manhattan, a source tells PEOPLE.
As Bono and the Obamas walked out of the eatery, the source says, “the whole restaurant stood up and applauded and cheered for them. Barack Obama waved at everyone upon leaving.”
The former president looked relaxed and happy as he left the restaurant with a wide smile, wearing a sleek black suit and white shirt with the top few buttons undone. It was a slightly more dressed-up look than the streamlined brown leather jacket and new and improved dad jeans he was spotted wearing last Sunday during a visit with his wife to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. — where they also earned a round of applause from fellow museum-goers.
The former first lady looked equally breezy during Friday’s lunch outing, wearing a color-block white, black and gray shirt, black pants and a long gray coat.
This isn’t Obama’s first visit to Stephen Starr’s Upland. He also took daughters Malia and Sasha there for brunch in 2015, when he enjoyed one of the Gramercy restaurant’s most popular items: the cheeseburger. The California-style burger features two beef patties covered in melted cheese and topped with lettuce, avocado, tomato and peppadew peppers.
The $21 burger is only served at brunch and lunch — which means it’s entirely possible the former president revisited the much-loved dish at his lunch with Bono. Another popular menu item served up by chef Justin Smillie is the cacio e pepe.
Former President Bill Clinton is also a fan of Upland and has dined there as recently as six months ago.
The Obamas have been keeping busy in their post-White House life. After enjoying a 10-day vacation at Virgin founder Richard Branson’s private residence in the British Virgin Islands, the former first couple are now settling into their new 8,200-square-foot home in Washington, D.C., and exploring the city in a whole new way.
They’ve also negotiated and signed publishing deals for their White House memoirs, and attended meetings together on Obama’s presidential library and foundation.
Friday wasn’t the first time Bono has shared a meal with the Obamas either. The former president invited Bono and Alicia Keys to the White House in 2011 for a lunch in his private dining room next to the Oval Office.
According to White House photographer Pete Souza, Bono picked up a guitar and played a little of the Beatles’ “Norwegian Wood” for the president — who couldn’t resist turning to his photographer and asking, “How cool is this?”
This story is better than the photo. Back in 2011, the President invited Bono and Alicia Keys to lunch in his private dining room adjacent to the Oval Office. Bono asks where he should sit. Potus says sit wherever there's a chair. Bono sees a guitar case in the corner, a campaign memento from Rock The Vote event. Bono quickly tunes the guitar and starts playing/singing Norwegian Wood by the Beatles. Why? Because the second verse goes like this: "She asked me to stay And she told me to sit anywhere So I looked around And I noticed there wasn't a chair" In the midst of this, the President looks back at me and says, "How cool is this?"
And while visiting the former president in Ireland during the G8 summit in 2013, Mrs. Obama and her daughters met Bono and his family for lunch at a pub in the town of Dalkey, where the singer lives.
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Bono’s two sons Elijah, then 13, and John, then 12, also attended and were seated at a table with Malia, then 14, and Sasha, then 12, The Telegraph reported.
Bono, whose wife, Ali Hewson, was also in attendance, said at the time: “There was no political discussion, it was just two families together. They’re a great family – we’ve met before.”
“She loves Ireland and it seems that Ireland loves her,” he added of the then-first lady.
Bono also met with President Obama and his national security team in 2010 to “discuss the administration’s development strategy heading into the upcoming G-8 and G-20 meetings in Canada and September’s U.N. Summit on the Millenium Development Goals,” Bono’s advocacy group, ONE, said in a statement to The New York Times.
“With the first BlackBerry president, we discussed the power of new technology to empower activists and entrepreneurs across Africa,” Bono added.
More recently, Bono met with Vice President Mike Pence at the Munich Security Conference in Germany in February.
The two men discussed the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) — a government initiative to provide treatment, testing, education, and counseling to those suffering with HIV/AIDS in Africa (among other places).
Bono, who has been raising awareness about the global HIV/AIDS epidemic for nearly two decades, praised Pence’s past defense of the initiative during the friendly meeting.
“Twice on the House floor you defended that,” Bono told Pence. “That’s how we know you.”
“It was an extraordinary historic accomplishment and you played a leading role in carrying it forward,” Pence responded.