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After a Fifteen-Year Run, Ruth's Chris on Flamingo in Las Vegas Closing;
Loss of 400 Conventions and a 48% Decline in Business to Blame

By Norm Clarke, Las Vegas Review-JournalMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Aug. 8, 2009--The hard-hit local restaurant industry is losing another well-known nightspot.

Ruth's Chris Steak House on Flamingo is closing Sunday night, ending a 15-year run.

Owner Marcel Taylor said he will continue to pay the rent in hopes that the economy and convention will turn around enough by early 2010 to reopen.

It's the second restaurant Taylor has closed in three months. He shuttered his Denver Ruth's Chris on May 11 after 14 years.

"Ruth's Chris restaurants are down 20 percent around the country. We're down 48 percent (in Las Vegas)," he said, mainly because of the 400 conventions that were canceled between February and June.

"(President Barack) Obama's remark really killed us," he said, referring to the president's comment that companies seeking bailouts shouldn't be taking trips to the Super Bowl or Las Vegas.

The Flamingo location was popular with the late-night crowd because it stayed open until 3 a.m. "We set a trend in late-night dining which we will bring to Paradise (Road)," his original location.

Celebrities often came by after their shows. "Ray Charles' manager sent a letter saying Ray's last dinner at a restaurant was at our Flamingo restaurant," said Taylor. Last year, Taylor, a longtime Republican, looked up and saw Fox News' Sean Hannity and Oliver North walk in the door.

Another fond memory was the night comedian Brad Garrett saw Taylor walk in the restaurant. "He stood up and said, 'Hey Marcel, nice restaurant! But next time could you get me a table near a waiter."

Sunday's closing will be emotional, Taylor said.

"My mother died at 3 p.m the day we opened. Only my family knew. It's always been a special place for me.

"Anyway, we'll work it out."

He said he's optimistic that the economy will rebound by January.

MORE 'PRAISE'

It's a big weekend for Grammy Award-winning Larry Hart and his spiritual concert "Praise."

It's not only being filmed for a PBS special at the South Point Hotel Casino showroom Sunday, starting at 2 p.m., but he's also expecting a number of producers from New York, London, Germany and Los Angeles to preview it and discuss a possible tour.

Interest has also been expressed, he said, in his stage musical "Sisterella," the 1990's Broadway project that gained the backing of Michael Jackson, who was one of the executive producers.

Hart is also in talks with South Point to extend "Praise," which was to close this weekend.

Tickets: 702-797-8055 or 1-866-796-7111.

THE SCENE AND HEARD

The Las Vegas premiere of "The Goods," starring "Entourage" star Jeremy Piven, is being held Wednesday at Planet Hollywood Resort. Joining Piven on the 6:30 p.m. red carpet will be Will Ferrell, Alan Thicke and others.

SIGHTINGS

R&B superstar Usher, getting a manicure and pedicure at Michael Boychuck's Amp Salon (Palms) on Friday. ... Tony Kanal, bass player for No Doubt, hanging out with friends at Wasted Space (Hard Rock Hotel) on Thursday. ... At Tao (Venetian) on Thursday: Dr. 90210's Dr. Gary Motykie, celebrating his birthday with Marie Osmond, who joined the dinner party. Up in the nightclub, Soleil Moon Frye, the star of "Punky Brewster," was spotted with her husband and friends. Earlier Frye and her group dined at Koi (Planet Hollywood Resort) and attended "Peepshow." They were celebrating the birthday of her husband, producer Jason Goldberg. ... Francia Raisa, who stars in "The Secret Life of the American Teenager," celebrating her 21st birthday Thursday at Blush Boutique Nightclub inside Wynn Las Vegas. Earlier her group attended a performance of "Le Reve."

THE PUNCH LINE

"I'm so proud of Bill Clinton ... the way he was able to negotiate the release of Paula Abdul." -- Harrah's headliner Rita Rudner

Norm Clarke can be reached at (702) 383-0244 or norm@reviewjournal.com. Find additional sightings and more online at www.normclarke.com.

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To see more of the Review-Journal or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.lvrj.com.

Copyright (c) 2009, Las Vegas Review-Journal

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