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July 28, 2014

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Goretorium’s legal troubles are latest example that celebrity ties don’t guarantee success in Las Vegas

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Denise Truscello/WireImage/DeniseTruscello.net

Eli Roth gets into the Halloween spirit hosting a bash at Eli Roth’s Goretorium on Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012.

VIP Blood Red Carpet for Goretorium

Eli Roth arrives on the VIP blood red carpet for his Goretorium on the Strip on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012. Launch slideshow »

Eli Roth’s Goretorium made headlines this month when the year-round haunted attraction filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection 10 months after it opened on the Strip.

Now a lawsuit filed against its owners offers a glimpse into what may have prompted the bankruptcy filing. Los Angeles-based design firm Creative Uprising filed suit June 26 in Los Angeles County Superior Court complaining that it had not been paid for some of its work on Goretorium’s website design, branding and other general creative services.

According to the suit, Goretorium CEO Robert Frey told Creative Uprising that Goretorium had its first break-even month in March and threatened that if Creative Uprising sued for the money owed, he would file for bankruptcy protection and “no one will get paid.” Frey maintained that with just a few more good months, Creative Uprising would get paid but did not agree to a timeline or type of payment structure.

Haunted Desert LLC, which owns Goretorium, filed for bankruptcy protection July 1. Goretorium officials did not return repeated requests for comment.

Neither the continuing litigation nor the Chapter 11 filing mean an early grave for Goretorium. Under Chapter 11, companies continue operating while developing a plan of reorganization for creditors to approve or deny, and Roth himself, director of “The Last Exorcism” and the “Hostel” franchise, took to Goretorium’s social media to reiterate that the attraction has no plans to close.

Goretorium wouldn’t be the first celebrity venture in Las Vegas to face financial troubles. From restaurants to nightclubs to casino hotels, here’s a look at other embattled celebrity businesses in Las Vegas:

    • The Lynyrd Skynyrd BBQ & Beer grand opening in the Excalibur on Dec. 8, 2011.

      Lynyrd Skynrd’s BBQ and Beer

      Lynyrd Skynyrd’s BBQ and Beer restaurant bid farewell to its sweet home at Excalibur in September after owners filed for bankruptcy protection for the eatery and its sister establishment, American Burger Works. The venue, which opened in December 2011, was lauded for its Southern chow but faced financial issues after a lawsuit was filed by one of its contractors for payments owed.

    • Juicy subject: Eva Longoria’s SHe at Crystals takes the steakhouse concept up a notch.

      Eva Longoria’s Beso and SHe Nightclub

      After the initial success of Longoria’s Beso restaurant in Hollywood, which opened in 2008, the actress opened another branch — complete with a sister nightclub, Eve — at Crystals in CityCenter in late 1999. After losing an estimated $76,000 per month, Longoria and co-investors filed for bankruptcy in early 2011. Beso Las Vegas’ assets were bought out of bankruptcy later that year by restaurant and casino investor Tilman Fertitta, who then closed Beso in August.

      Eve went on to be revamped into SHe Nightclub, a companion to Longoria’s new SHe steakhouse at Crystals, but it didn’t last long: The venue closed its doors just seven weeks after opening on New Year’s Eve. The steakhouse remains open.

    • Jay-Z, LeBron James and Beyonce at the now-defunct 40/40 Club.

      Jay Z's 40/40 Club

      Like Longoria, rapper-entrepreneur Jay Z found that success doesn’t always cross state lines. Though his popular sports-bar-turned-restaurant the 40/40 Club continues to thrive at its original New York City location, opened in 2003, its Las Vegas version at the Palazzo failed to bring in foot traffic, closing its doors just eight months after opening in 2008.

    •  Heidi Fleiss in her office at a laundry business in Pahrump, Nev., that she runs in October 2007. The woman once known as the Hollywood Madame wants to open a brothel nearby that caters to women.

      Heidi Fleiss’s pet salons

      Former “Hollywood Madam” Heidi Fleiss turned reality TV star when she took over the Las Vegas pet salon Little Buddy Bath in 2009, renaming it The Dirty Dog. The business lasted for all of three days before a judge ordered it closed as part of a civil lawsuit from its original owner, who said his estranged wife sold the business to Fleiss behind his back. Fleiss was sentenced to three years' probation on felony drug charges two days before the shop closed.

      After two years of false starts and legal troubles, Fleiss made a go at the doggy daycare business again, opening her dog hotel and grooming business First Pedigree in 2011. The business was in a shopping center in the southern part of the valley at Silverado Ranch and Bermuda Road. It's reported to have closed in early 2012.

    • Entertainer Debbie Reynolds pulls the handle of a slot machine inside the Debbie Reynolds Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas on Oct. 1, 1997. Reynolds would file bankruptcy later that year and sell the property for $10 million to the company behind the World Wrestling Federation.

      The Debbie Reynolds Hotel-Casino

      Film icon Debbie Reynolds may have found success in classics such as "Singin’ in the Rain" and "The Unsinkable Molly Brown," but her business ventures have proved less fruitful. The longtime Las Vegas fixture purchased the property formerly known as Paddlewheel in 1992 and reopened it a year later as the Debbie Reynolds hotel, where she performed and housed her vast collection of Hollywood memorabilia. However, the hotel’s off-Strip location on Casino Center Drive and mismanagement troubles left the property plagued with financial troubles almost from the beginning, and Reynolds filed for bankruptcy in 1997. The property was auctioned off the following year to the World Wrestling Federation, who intended to level it to make way for a wrestling-themed hotel. Those plans never came to fruition, and the building still stands today, now known as the Clarion.

    • Flavor Flav’s House of Flavor

      Despite its name, patrons weren’t feeling the flavor of the Southern-fried offerings at Flavor Flav’s House of Flavor, which shuttered after six months at its location on Maryland Parkway. Dismal Yelp reviews complaining of poor service and even worse food at the fried chicken takeout joint point to the restaurant’s demise. The Public Enemy MC previously opened a similar eatery, Flav’s Fried Chicken, in Clinton, Iowa, in January 2011, but that restaurant closed four months later due to a management dispute.

    Sun researcher Rebecca Clifford-Cruz contributed to this report.

    Follow Andrea Domanick on Twitter at @AndreaDomanick and fan her on Facebook at Facebook.com/AndreaDomanick.

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