Chef’s Lawsuit Explains 2-Year Delay for Emmitt Smith’s Las Vegas Restaurant

Posted on: August 15, 2023, 11:40h. 

Last updated on: August 15, 2023, 12:17h.

The mystery of the nearly two-year wait for the Las Vegas Strip restaurant promised by NFL legend Emmitt Smith has been rendered significantly less mysterious by a lawsuit filed Monday. Rainer Schwarz, who was named head chef of the restaurant last April, is suing some of his former business partners in the project.

The typical wait at a Rainer Shwarz restaurant is notoriously long. But two years has to be a record. (Image:

Schwarz’s suit, filed Monday in Clark County District Court and first reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, alleges that these 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 was not named in the suit.

Emmitt Smith, the former Dallas Cowboys running back and Pro Football Hall of Famer, isn’t named in a new lawsuit regarding his restaurant. (Image:

In October 2021, four entities, including Trilogy Group F&B LLC and an LLC owned by Smith, entered into an agreement to develop, own, and operate Emmitt’s Las Vegas and any future restaurants.

That December, Smith announced he would open Emmitt’s Las Vegas sometime in 2022. Later, it was learned that it would occupy two floors at the Fashion Show mall, including a lounge, nightclub, and terrace in the 22K square feet where the Sugar Factory once operated.

In March 2022, according to the complaint, Trilogy entered into a management agreement with Rainer’s LLC. Trilogy currently employs Rainer as executive chef for its Orange County, Calif. restaurants Driftwood Kitchen, Hendrix at Ocean Ranch, The Deck on Laguna Beach, and The Bungalows on Laguna Beach.

Things still appeared to be proceeding smoothly last July, when the restaurant held a job fair inside the Fashion Show, eyeing a September 2022 opening.

Offensive Holding?

According to Rainer’s complaint, Valley Water Mill LLC, a minority Trilogy owner, and its individual members “unlawfully assigned” Trilogy’s lease to Valley Water Mill and Rainer’s management rights to its own company. These individuals changed the locks to Emmitt’s, preventing Rainer and others from entering the restaurant.

The suit also names Gillett Construction LLC and its president and CEO, Darren Gillett, as defendants due to their part in changing the locks and providing tours of the space to competing chefs and vendors.

Rainer’s suit seeks an estimated $67 million in salary and profit-sharing that, it argues, Rainer expected to earn according to his original management agreement. It also seeks compensation for $25 million, the estimated value of Trilogy’s stake in the lease agreement. It’s also seeking $1.1 million in unreimbursed expenses incurred by Rainer for staffing, vendor contracts, the design and commission of a decorative ceiling and grand staircase, and nearly $700K in kitchen equipment.

Finally, the suit seeks a court-ordered motion to prevent the defendants from opening or operating Emmitt’s without him.