One of Ivana Trump’s close friends opened up about their almost two-decade friendship in an interview published days after the businesswoman died at the age of 73 in her New York City home Thursday.
Zach Erdem, the owner of the restaurant 75 Main in Southampton, New York, that is featured in the TV show “Serving the Hamptons,” told People that the late fashion designer was an “incredible mom” and a great wife and advisor to her ex-husband, former President Donald Trump.
“She was kind, she was an incredible mom. She raised incredible kids and was a great wife for Mr. Trump and she helped him,” Erdem told the outlet. “I wish I could have learned more from her. I was joking with her that I want to be a Trump. ‘Can you make me Trump as well?’ And she was like, ‘I’m working on it.'”
Erdem remembered Trump as someone who didn’t care about politics or religion and who was always “ready to help whoever needed it.”
“She was always supporting charities and everything. She was like an angel. Whoever needed help, she would be there,” the restaurateur said, adding that she was “kind of like a mother” to him.
He recalled first meeting Trump in 2003 when he was working as a busboy at a high-end restaurant in New York City. At the time, he did not speak much English. He eventually left the restaurant and opened 75 Main in the Hamptons in 2010.
After he opened his own eatery, Erdem said Trump visited 75 Main. “I hadn’t seen her in a couple of years. And I hugged her very strong like you’re missing your mom. She was like, ‘Darling, I heard that you own this place. Let’s sit down.’ We sat down and had a great time,” he recounted.
According to Erdem, they then exchanged personal numbers and stayed in touch, and Trump would visit his restaurant whenever she was in the area.
Trump offered to help Erdem with his show “Serving the Hamptons.” He said the hour-and-a-half lunch she filmed for the show “was the last time she was on TV.”
Erdem said he had hoped to see Trump over this past winter, but it didn’t work out because of her “health issues.” He shared that they last spoke to each other a few weeks ago, and she had expressed her excitement over traveling to Europe for the summer during their conversation.
Erdem said Trump mentioned an issue with her hip but clarified that he does not know for sure because their phone connection was cutting in and out.
“She said she was going to surprise me but that she didn’t feel good and she didn’t want to get out of the house,” he told People. “She was kind of upset.”
Erdem shared that he broke down crying at his restaurant after someone informed him of her death.
“I just spoke with this lady two weeks ago. She was excited to go to Europe and come back to the Hamptons. I Googled it and I saw the news all over. I was really heartbroken. It’s really unexpected,” he told People.
Another close friend of Trump’s, Nikki Haskell, previously told Page Six that the late businesswoman was preparing for a trip to St. Tropez, France, before she passed away Thursday. The getaway was supposed to be Trump’s first trip away since the pandemic, according to Haskell.
New York City’s chief medical examiner announced Friday that Trump died in her New York City apartment Thursday due to “blunt impact injuries” to her torso. Her death was ruled an accident.
The circumstances of her death were consistent with a fall on the stairs, a senior New York City official with direct knowledge of the matter told NBC News.