Vegas independent restaurants among the highest grossing in the U.S.

Tao Las Vegas at the Venetian.
Tao Las Vegas at the Venetian.

What does it take for a restaurant to gross $47 million in a year? Just ask the team behind Tao Las Vegas, the Asian eatery and pre-party destination at the Venetian that topped Restaurant Business magazine’s list of the 100 top-grossing independent restaurants in the country.

The venue’s recipe for success is fairly simple: a dining room that seats 433; a menu of approachable pan-Asian fare, including sushi rolls, miso-glazed sea bass and lobster pad Thai; regular A-lister appearances; and a “vibe-dining” atmosphere that encourages the sharing of plates and clinking of cocktails before heading upstairs to Tao’s sister nightclub for bottles of vodka and DJ-fueled dancing.

It’s a formula that Tao Group has seemingly perfected. No. 2 on this year’s top grossing list was Tao Downtown in New York ($38 million in sales), followed by No. 4 Lavo New York ($31 million), No. 8 Tao Uptown in New York ($24 million) and No. 42 Lavo Italian Restaurant ($16 million) at the Palazzo in Las Vegas.

“The recognition, and having five restaurants in two markets gracing the top 50 of the list, is always gratifying as it demonstrates that we are providing an impressive overall dining experience that attracts guests and keeps them returning again and again,” said Tao Group Partner Rich Wolf. “The honor truly belongs to our staff for delivering the Tao Group standard of service to our guests night after night for so many years.”

While the list certainly demonstrates that Tao’s strategy and service are working, it also shows there’s more than one way for a restaurant to make a buck. Based on food and beverage revenues from 2014, the combined sales across all 100 restaurants was a whopping $1.7 billion, with average check sizes ranging from $14 at Zehnders of Frankenmuth to $175 at Las Vegas’ own Carnevino inside the Palazzo.

“So in a sense,” the magazine wrote, “the Top 100 is a measure of success.”

Las Vegas in particular was well represented among the listings. Along with Tao and Mario Batali’s Carnevino, Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab at the Forum Shops came in at No. 15 ($20.9 million) and Wynn’s SW Steakhouse ($19.3 million) ranked inside the top 20, and 15 total Vegas restaurants made the list, including Wolfgang Puck’s Spago at the Forum Shops, Paris Las Vegas’s Mon Ami Gabi and N9NE Steakhouse inside the Palms.

In fact, Las Vegas was second only to New York in the number of restaurants that made the list, which is perhaps why it also ranked highly in another recent Restaurant Business report: the Restaurant Growth Index, which named Las Vegas the third best place to open a restaurant in the U.S.

Restaurateurs seem to be paying attention. London-based Japanese eatery Zuma is slated to open at the Cosmopolitan next year, and Chinese favorite Mr. Chow will begin serving at Caesars Palace in December.

To see the full Top 100 Grossing Independent Restaurants list, click here.

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