|By Steve Green, Las Vegas
SunMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Aug. 09, 2011--Restaurant and casino operator Landry's Restaurants Inc. has stepped in to prevent the closure of Eva Longoria's Beso restaurant in Las Vegas -- and Landry's now hopes to buy Beso out of bankruptcy.
Beso, which has been operating in bankruptcy since January, in recent days faced imminent closure because of continuing losses, its manager, William Braden, said in a court filing Tuesday.
But under a deal with a Landry's subsidiary, Landry's took over operations at Beso on Monday and plans to offer to buy it for $1 million plus any funds it advances to the business in the interim, Braden said in the filing.
Landry's, headed by businessman Tilman Fertitta, is based in Houston.
Landry's owns the Golden Nugget hotel-casinos in Las Vegas, Laughlin and Atlantic City; and several restaurant chains including Claim Jumper, Landry's Seafood and the Rainforest Cafe.
Fertitta, in an interview Tuesday night, said Longoria would continue to hold a substantial equity stake in the business, would visit Beso when she is in Las Vegas and maintain her involvement in its direction and menu. He declined to say what percentage Longoria would hold.
In a statement issued by Landry's on Tuesday, the company said Fertitta has "joined forces with Eva Longoria to manage, own and operate the world class restaurant, Beso, located in the heart of CityCenter in Las Vegas."
"Eva created a landmark restaurant in the spectacular CityCenter and I look forward to working with her as my partner," Fertitta said in the statement.
Fertitta said in the interview he was attracted to the opportunity because of the high volume of business at Beso -- nearly $14.6 million in gross revenue in 2010 -- and that he is looking at opportunities to improve the business, including reopening its closed nightclub.
"The problem there was management, not revenue." Fertitta said of Beso's previous financial difficulties.
Last month, Beso's Eve nightclub closed due to losses there. But even that didn't stem the tide of red ink at the Beso business at Crystals, a high-end shopping center on the Las Vegas Strip that is part of MGM Resorts International's CityCenter complex.
"Last week, I decided to close the Beso restaurant because it is generating losses and the debtor would have run out of funds to pay its payroll, payroll taxes and sales taxes if operations continue much longer," Braden said in his court declaration, adding that he was also prepared to convert the bankruptcy from a Chapter 11 reorganization to a Chapter 7 liquidation.
But with Landry's involvement, Beso now has a deep-pocketed backer and should remain open.
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