Celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse's newly opened Las Vegas restaurant can keep its liquor license despite a lewd Memorial Day tussle there involving TV host Robin Leach, whipped cream and naked women, according to a ruling by officials.
The incident, at Delmonico's Steak House at the newly opened Venetian mega-resort on the Las Vegas Strip, was unplanned, members of the Clark County Liquor and Gaming Licensing Board said late Tuesday.
Although the county code bans public nudity and sexually explicit behavior at a restaurant with a liquor license, the restaurant will keep its license on a provisional basis, said Ardel Jorgensen, director of county business licenses.
Lagasse, a TV chef who owns the restaurant and leases space from the Venetian, told board members that he was "both personally humiliated and deeply saddened by the embarrassment." He promised to warn all staff of his "zero tolerance policy" regarding such behavior.
He also barred Leach, the former host of the "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" TV show, from all six of his U.S. restaurants.
According to a six-week probe by the panel, several women dining at the restaurant with Leach last May allegedly disrobed and exposed themselves to kitchen staff and posed in front of windows facing the restaurant area. The women also allegedly spread whipped cream on themselves, witnesses said.
The investigation confirmed that there was physical contact between the participants and that Leach and at least one Delmonico manager joined in the fray. The incident ended when a female worker complained and several restaurant patrons walked out in disgust, Jorgensen said.
Billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who masterminded the Venetian resort and is chairman of Las Vegas Sands Inc., which owns the property, was dining in the restaurant the night of the incident, the investigation found. But his table was about 70 feet from Leach's and it was unlikely he was able to see the fray, Jorgensen said.
In a statement released in early June, Leach, who had been working as an event host and restaurant consultant to the Venetian, denied any wrongdoing. He called news accounts of the incident a "gross exaggeration" of a "harmless fun whipped-cream fight." Leach has since been suspended from his position at the Venetian.