Dallas

Restaurant tycoon sued by employee who shows video of him groping her

Phil Romano, right, founder of eatZi’s, is shown in a 2012 photo with Adam Romo Jr., chief executive officer at eatZi’s, outside the Grapevine location.
Phil Romano, right, founder of eatZi’s, is shown in a 2012 photo with Adam Romo Jr., chief executive officer at eatZi’s, outside the Grapevine location. Star-Telegram

Restaurant mogul Phil Romano, best known as the founding father of Fuddruckers, Macaroni Grill and eatZi’s, is being sued by an assistant manager at a Dallas eatZi’s who says he grabbed her buttocks during a staff meeting.

The incident was captured by the store’s surveillance cameras, and Ichel Cook recently shared the video and her story with WFAA. “I felt pretty disgusted that he did that to me,” she told News8’s Bradley Blackburn. “I was shocked.”

The $1 million lawsuit states Romano “inappropriately grabbed [Cook’s] buttocks” as he walked by, and then looked back at her “with a grin on his face.”

Romano’s attorney said he would “vehemently defend our client.”

Fort Worth is slated to get its first eatZi’s, a European-style eatery and bakery specializing in prepared foods, in early 2017 in University Park Village. It will be located right across the street from a Romano’s Macaroni Grill.

In recent years, Romano has made headlines in the restaurant world by opening the restaurant incubator Trinity Groves. The space in west Dallas gives promising young chefs a place to launch their concepts and has produced several critically acclaimed restaurants, including LUCK and Casa Rubio.

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