Tao Reigns

Is delicious food or star power the secret ingredient in Tao’s recipe for success? Either way, the Asian restaurant at the Venetian is No. 1 again. Restaurants & Institutions magazine has crowned the hot spot as the nation’s highest-grossing independent restaurant for the fourth consecutive year.

The venue grossed nearly $60 million in 2009, according to the survey, which uses tax data to form the annual chronicle.  

Its Italian sister, Lavo at the Palazzo, also made the list—No. 2 in Las Vegas and at No. 7 nationwide—after ringing in $22 million in sales.

The Tao Group runs both restaurants, and co-owner Jason Strauss says the key to their success is no secret. “I think the backbone of anybody’s success is the management,” he tells Vegas Seven. “You can market the hell out of something and you can do great PR, but at the end of the day the management is really what makes or breaks a place.”

Still, Strauss and his partners enjoy a considerable leg up on the competition thanks to their large concepts and nightlife-based liquor sales. Tao, for example, is 62,000 square feet, while Prime Steakhouse—No. 20 on the list—has just 7,500 square feet.

Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak and Stone Crab at the Forum Shops at Caesars was the third Las Vegas venue on the list, in 13th place with $19 million in sales. SW Steakhouse ($18.1 million), Mix ($18 million), Craftsteak ($17 million), Prime Steakhouse ($16.4 million), Mon Ami Gabi ($15.5 million) and Top of the World (15.1 million) also made the top 25.