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Delicious Irony

Local steakhouse pioneer Marcel Taylor celebrated a special anniversary this week: the gift of having lived the past 10 years.

On Nov. 13, 1998, Taylor was in San Francisco for a friend’s party when he decided to head back to the Pan Pacific Hotel and grab a late-night pizza at the bar.

He had some pizza and a beer.

“The last thing I remember is signing a check,” said Taylor, whose two Ruth’s Chris Steak House franchises (3900 Paradise Road and 4561 W. Flamingo Road) ignited the steakhouse wars in Las Vegas.

The bartender saw him slumped over the bar.

Taylor, 69, credits the good fortune of having two doctors and a nurse seated at nearby table.

The nurse provided mouth-to-mouth, enough to keep him clinging to life. Paramedics arrived in seven minutes, but it looked like it was too late.

“They hit me nine times (with the defibrillator) but they couldn’t get a heartbeat,” Taylor said. “I was talking to a paramedic … and he said ‘You don’t know how lucky you are. We usually stop after five times.’ “

There’s some delicious irony. “A beer and a pizza saved my life. If I had gone to my room, they would have found me the next day,” he said.

Later, Taylor, a native of New Orleans, learned he had numerous connections with the nurse who started CPR. Sharon Newton, who received the highest award from the Red Cross for her efforts, had done her nursing training in New Orleans at Charity Hospital, where Taylor’s mother worked.

When Newton and her husband went to New Orleans to exchange vows for their 25th anniversary, the priest who renewed their vows, the Rev. Bob Masset, had been an altar boy with Taylor.

The priest also presided at the funeral of Ruth Fertel, founder of Ruth’s Chris Steak House.

Taylor, a longtime dealer in Las Vegas, had noticed that repeat hotel guests often asked for a steakhouse recommendation. “We’d send ’em to the Golden Steer,” a popular beef emporium for decades.

Taylor thought a steakhouse would work and he talked Fertel into awarding him a franchise for Las Vegas, which opened on Paradise Road in 1989, years before star chefs joined the steakhouse competition.

Taylor correctly judged that the city’s growing convention business would be a bonanza and that fewer hotels were offering dinner comps. Business took off, and his success led to the 1994 opening of the Flamingo location, a late-night haunt.

On Nov. 21, Taylor’s Paradise location, now in its 20th year, will celebrate the occasion from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. with complimentary appetizers and martini specials in the lounge.


Finicky kids aren’t a household issue for Alex Stratta and his wife, Laura.

Their twins, Bianco and Marco, who turn 1 today, must have inherited the DNA of their father, executive chef at Wynn Las Vegas’ Alex and Stratta restaurants.

While others kids are choking down their dislikes, the Stratta twins find little to fuss over.

“They eat fish … grilled fish, steamed fish. They love limes, avocados, cucumbers, different cheeses, even bleu cheese. They definitely have gourmet palates,” said Stratta, one of the most decorated chefs in Las Vegas.

They’re taking after their dad, whose family was in the hotel business.

“I lived in hotels until about 14. I was raised on restaurant and room service food,” said Stratta, who grew up in Mexico, Italy, Malaysia and Pakistan.

Adventurous eating was “very natural for me,” he said.

“We have not run into anything they don’t like yet. Nothing,” he said. “It’s really strange.”

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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