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Dallas Restaurateur Phil Romano Slapped With Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

An Eatzi's employee seeks $1 million in damages.

The scene of the alleged harassment.
The scene of the alleged harassment.
Amy McCarthy is a reporter at, focusing on pop culture, policy and labor, and only the weirdest online trends.

As one of Dallas’ most successful restaurateurs, Phil Romano is no stranger to lawsuits. In 2004, Romano sued the Dallas Morning News for a less-than-positive review of his now-shuttered restaurant Il Mulino. In 2013, Romano sued the co-owner of his Hoffman Hots for misuse of company funds. Today, though, Romano finds himself on the other side of a sticky legal battle.

WFAA reports that an Eatzi’s employee has filed suit against Romano for sexual harassment. According to the suit, Ichel Cook was at a manager’s meeting attended by Romano when the restaurateur walked behind her and “inappropriately grabbed [her] buttocks with a grin on his face.”

Cook ultimately decided against addressing the alleged harassment at the time, but Romano later confronted her about the incident. "He said that he just thinks of me like one of the guys, and didn't think that this would upset me," Cook told WFAA. To make matters potentially worse for Romano, screenshots of security video at the restaurant posted to WFAA clearly show the incident.

Cook seeks a minimum of $1 million in damages. Earlier this week, a judge denied her request for a restraining order against Romano. She plans to continue working at Eatzi’s.