Restaurant concept creator Phil Romano has been sued by an assistant manager of his Eatzi’s food market for alleged sexual harassment.
Ichel Cook is seeking at least $1 million in damages from a lone incident, which was recorded on an in-store video camera. The footage shows Romano touching Cook’s butt as he passes behind her, but it is unclear if Romano is giving her a pat or grabbing her buttocks, as the woman alleges. The footage can be seen here.
Cook said Romano was grinning as he made the contact. His facial expression is not visible on the clip.
A court denied Cook's request for a restraining order against Romano, and she continues to work at Eatzi's.
Romano’s attorney told The Dallas Morning News that the creator of Fuddruckers and Romano’s Macaroni Grill will vehemently contest the allegations and demonstrate that the case should be thrown out of court.
Romano has hatched a number of restaurant concepts in his decades as a restaurateurs. Many, such as Cozymel’s and Romano’s, were sold to Brinker International.
Among his recent projects is the Trinity Groves restaurant incubator in Dallas. He also runs Eatzi's, a concept he sold to Brinker but eventually bought back to operate himself.