06/09/2004 at 03:45 PM EDT
Given the tensions between Rocco DiSpirito and the owners of his restaurant Rocco's, it took a New York judge to give the TV chef permission to enter the restaurant that bears his name – so he could take photos of himself for a cookbook to be published this summer, the Associated Press reports.
China Grill Management, a group of financial backers who say they own Rocco's 22nd Street restaurant, previously sued DiSpirito over management of the eatery and barred him from entering.
A China Grill lawyer, Laurence Kaiser, has subsequently sought a court order to bar DiSpirito permanently. Kaiser claims that in recent months DiSpirito has stolen restaurant property and assaulted its manager.
State Supreme Court Justice Ira Gammerman signed an order that on Tuesday afternoon permitted DiSpirito to enter Rocco's – the site and subject of NBC's reality series The Restaurant – and use it as a setting for photos for "Rocco's Italian American Cooking."
The jurist also ordered DiSpirito to put $500 in escrow to cover any damage he might cause while on the premises.
DiSpirito may not enter Rocco's at any other time without court permission until a resolution is reached between him and his financial backers over ownership and control of the restaurant.
Neither side has offered comments on the latest development.