When NFL legend Emmitt Smith announced in December 2021 that he would be opening a restaurant on the Las Vegas strip, it drew excitement from locals and tourists.
But two years later the restaurant has not opened and chef Rainer Schwarz has filed a lawsuit against several of the project’s partners.
According to documents obtained by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Schwarz, who was slated to be the main chef of the restaurant, filed a lawsuit in Clark County District Court alleging that several of his former partners, “arranged a conspiracy to steal the opportunity to open and operate Emmitt’s for themselves, while cutting Chef Rainer LLC and Trilogy out of the deal entirely.”
Smith, who has a net worth of $25 million, entered the initial agreement with Trilogy and Chef Rainer, LLC. However, Smith and his company are not listed as defendants in the lawsuit.
Changed Locks and Engaging With Potential Competitors Leads To Lawsuit
In 2021, Trilogy F&B Group and Chef Rainer, LLC, established an operating agreement to “develop, design, own and operate restaurants, lounges, and entertainment venues under the name of ‘Emmitt’s.’”
Valley Water Mill, a minority owner of Trilogy and Gillett Construction of Las Vegas have been named as defendants in the lawsuit.
In a complaint filed in May 2023, Schwarz alleges that Valley Water Mill changed the locks to the restaurant. The move prohibited Schwarz and others involved in the project from having access to the restaurant.
Gillett Construction of Las Vegas and its present and CEO Darrent Gillett were was also named in the lawsuit. Schwarz argues that Gillett Construction employees allegedly managed the locks being changed. It is also alleged that Gillett Construction facilitated tours of the restaurant to competing vendors and chefs.
The lawsuit also argued that the restaurant’s lease was unlawfully transferred to Valley Water Mill and “formed a new corporate entity to replace Chef Rainer LLC and usurp its rights under the Management Agreement, including by engaging alternate vendors and contractors.”
Loss of Assets
Trilogy and Schwarz charge that the lease agreement — valued at $25 million — is its only asset. In addition, Chef Rainer LLC has lost an estimated $2.2 million in costs associated with interior design, hiring staff, vendor contracts, utilities, kitchen equipment, tableware, stemware and other supplies.
The complaint also emphasizes that more than $1.1 million of these costs have never been reimbursed.
Finally, Schwarz filed a motion enjoining the defendants from moving forward with opening or operating Emmitt’s.