Chicago local’s restaurant is a winner in Las Vegas

Steve Marcus

Lip Smacking Foodie Tours founder Donald Contursi checks a desk at Cipriani, an Italian restaurant in the Wynn, during a tour on Saturday, May 15, 2021. The afternoon tour included 4 restaurants on the strip.

When an Ohio household sat at one of the many high-boiling restaurants on the Las Vegas Strip, the social gathering of seven looked upon an extravaganza of contemporary seafood on ice.

There was barbouni for $ 62 a pound, king crab for $ 132 a pound, and langoustine lobster for $ 132 a pound.
But the guests – Jeff Haupt and his household – didn’t just consume in the Estiatorio Milos, a Greek restaurant in the Venetian style.

You were part of a 17-person restaurant tour organized by Lip Smacking Foodie Tours, a local business started by entrepreneur and restaurant professional Donald Contursi.

The afternoon tour “Savors of the Strip”, one of several offered by the company, takes friends on a stroll through 4 strip restaurants. For $ 125, members can enjoy a variety of meals at each restaurant.

The stops today also included the Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill and Smith & Wollensky, each at the Grand Canal Shoppes on the Venetian, and Cipriani on Wynn Las Vegas.

The company also offers a range of tours of the valley valued at $ 125 to $ 799 for its “Ultimate Steakhouse Tour,” which includes a hire with Bazaar Meat, world-famous Saharan chef Jose Andres.

The main tour lasted just under 4 hours from start to finish.

Not only did friends enjoy dishes like Smith & Wollensky’s outraged shrimp and Sugarcane’s goat cheese croquette, but they also listened to tour information that provided details and stories about each resort and restaurant.

There was no empty stomach or under-challenged buyer at the top.

“It’s something that has really lost weight,” said Contursi.

37-year-old Contursi started Lip Smacking Foodie Tours in 2014 after working as a server at various well-known restaurants in Las Vegas with Gordon Ramsay Steak in Paris Las Vegas for years.

The 5-employee company has focused entirely on corporate teams from the start, specializing in vacationers and residents of the Las Vegas Valley.

In 2020, Contursi started a spin-off known as Finger Licking Foodie Tours to offer self-guided experiences.

Contursi mentioned that he started the business as a result of his love of meals but burned out as a waiter. “I knew I had something special, so I knew it would crush me if I didn’t do anything with it,” he said.

Nowadays, it’s not uncommon for companies to entertain more than 100 people a day, and that doesn’t depend on the company teams, which mostly went missing from the pandemic, Contursi said.

In Sugarcane, the main household and the rest of their tour group were taken to the dining room of the restaurant seconds after they arrived.

A few minutes later, plates of crispy hamachi rice with chives and truffle oil and dates wrapped in bacon came out.

Rodney Ignacio, Government Chef at Sugarcane, mentioned that Lip Smacking Foodie Tours were a great way for the restaurant to advertise in a non-traditional way.
“It helps to promote something that people may not be used to,” said Ignacio. “We’ll see people who come in after the tour and want the full dish or experience.”

Haupt, whose daughter found out about the tours on TikTok, mentioned that the money was properly spent.

“We had a great time,” said Haupt. “It’s a great way to experience some of these Las Vegas restaurants without going out of the way.”
Originally from Chicago, Contursi adopted his mother to Las Vegas for nearly 20 years in the past. He attended the College of Southern Nevada and UNLV before turning into a full-time server.

Lip Smacking recently started a self-guided deep dish pizza tour in his hometown and was approached by Station Casinos to arrange a tour of the Green Valley Ranch that started earlier this month.

“I want Lip Smacking Foodie Tours to go national,” said Contursi. “It would be great to bring our product to other cities across the country.”

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