20 Best Athlete-Owned Restaurants for 2013 Slideshow
Many dishes at Joe Theismann's sound pretty run-of-the-mill — wedge salad, seared ahi tuna,— but you have to be doing something right to have the staying power this former Redskins' quarterback's restaurant does, since it opened more than 35 years ago. Of greatest interest perhaps is the steakhouse-cut pork chop with a "secret rub," a longtime customer favorite.
Joe Theismann's Restaurant
After a brief but sparkling professional career as running back for the Detroit Lions, Sims turned his attention to his other passion: barbecue. There are currently a whopping 30 locations of Billy Sims Barbecue throughout Oklahoma, Missouri, and Michigan (with a 31st opening soon), with traditional barbecue favorites like pulled pork, brisket, and smoked chicken joined by regional specialties including Frito Chili Pie and smoked bologna. He also, of course, offers tailgate-friendly "super packs."
Billy Sims BBQ
The namesake restaurant of Canada’s most beloved hockey player and NHL Hall of Famer is strategically located a block and a half from the Rogers Centre, home of the Toronto Blue Jays. Despite being closer to the ballpark than the hockey arena, Gretzky’s recently-renovated dining room pulls in fans with local delicacies like poutine, a heart-clogging mash-up of skin-on fries, cheese curds, and a pool of gravy. There are also pan-fried pierogies stuffed with bacon, potato, and Cheddar, inspired by "The Great One’s" grandmother. For oenophiles, Gretzky produces his own brand of wine, No. 99, that's grapes are grown on a peninsula in Vineland, Ontario, considered to be the "Napa of the North."
Former Phoenix Suns guard "Thunder Dan" Majerle was renowned for his ability to shoot from downtown. His restaurant, a little more than a block from US Airways Arena, is situated squarely in the downtown district. (Actually, there are four locations, with another opening soon in Flagstaff.) The menu features references to former players like the Sir Charles Chicken Sandwich, and includes burgers, sandwiches, salads, and wraps, along with the traditional sports bar appetizers (nachos, wings, sliders, and quesadillas).
flickr/ voenix rising
The former defensive lineman and linebacker serves up "Dallas-style" Texas barbecue on the outskirts of the city (in Frisco), via a wood-burning pit. Opened in 1994, the restaurant is well-known for its all-you-can-eat Friday special and $6 plate lunches.
Yelp/ Julie M
Fred Smerlas (nose tackle with the Bills, 49ers, and Patriots) and Steve DeOssie (linebacker, long snapper, and former Cowboy, Giant, and Patriot) opened their steakhouse, Fred & Steve's Steakhouse,in the Twin River Casino in 2007. House specialties on the self-described "wicked good menu" include sweet creamed corn off the cob with pancetta, smothered cubanelle peppers, lobster mac and cheese with truffle oil, and "tobacco onions."
Fred & Steve's Steakhouse
Packers replacement Aaron Rodgers has already cemented his reputation among cheeseheads, but Brett Favre's Steakhouse still continues to pull in the regulars. The restaurant is filled with Packers memorabilia, trophies, and personal items of the peripatetic quarterback. It's "the one place on Earth that captures the spirit of #4," notes the restaurant's website, reflecting "Brett's Southern upbringing in its menu and warm, welcoming atmosphere."
Largest cuts include the 32-ounce porterhouse, Brett's Signature Steak (a 20-ounce portion of London broil seasoned with cracked pepper, and garnished with sautéed button mushrooms), and Brett's Cut (20 ounces) of Titletown’s Best Prime Rib. That Southern upbringing shows itself on the menu, with items like Bayou pasta, blackened grouper, and jambalaya. And Friday nights feature perch, walleye, and all-you-can-eat cod.
flickr/ Aasen Ryan Family
The creation of businessman and restaurant-owner Frank Chivas, who partnered with former Buccaneers running back Mike "A-Train" Alstott and tight end Dave Moore, Island Way Grill boasts that it's "all about fresh fish." The site says the restaurant has its own boats, which "make daily trips to the middle grounds to bring back fresh tuna, mahi, snapper, and other local species... If it's any fresher, it is still in the Gulf." Fish is cooked around an oak- and citrus-fired open pit.
Yelp/ Drew W
After retiring from professional football, defensive lineman Al "Bubba" Baker and his wife Sabrina opened a catering business featuring "Southern-style barbecue cuisine." Bubba's Q has since done pretty well, at least according to the accolades they list (among them Cleveland Magazine and Silver Spoon Awards for "Best Ribs" and "Best Barbecue Restaurant" from 2009 to 2011).
Yao Restaurant & Bar was good enough to be featured at number 19 on The Daily Meal's list of 25 Best Celebrity-Owned Restaurants. Former Houston Rockets center Yao Ming and his wife joined with friends and local restaurant owners to create a large space serving Chinese and Chinese-American food. Lettuce wraps, Peking dumplings, Kung Pao (Yao?) beef — it's all there.
Yao Restaurant & Bar
Though he kicked clutch field goals for the San Diego Chargers and Miami Dolphins, Nate Kaeding has maintained a connection to his hometown of Iowa City, Iowa, by buying a stake in this bare-knuckle burger and beer joint. The corn-fed beef comes from Ed Smith’s Farm, just 26 miles down the road, and the craft beer comes from breweries around the state, like Old Man River. If you ever find yourself in Iowa, stop here for the Popejoy burger, a messy medley of patty meat, capicola, provolone, and muffaletta sauce.
Megan Woods Photography
"Taste the good life" is the tagline of Arnold Palmer's Restaurant in La Quinta, Calif. Makes sense. If anyone's living the good life, you'd think it would have to be Palmer. He won 92 national and international championships (61 of them on the regular PGA Tour), he's designed golf courses, and hey, he even invented a famous drink. Menu highlights include date and strawberry salad, honey-soy glazed Chilean sea bass, rack of lamb, and pan-seared sea scallops.
Arnold Palmer's Restaurant
While playing for the Seattle Supersonics in the late 1990s, former NBA point guard Gary Payton became a co-owner of this authentic Southern spot. The menu is as fun to read as the food is to eat: Sho'Nuff Fried Green Tomatoes, Hoppin’ John Griddlejacks, and Down Home Mac and Cheese. Save room for dessert — the red velvet cake layered with cream cheese frosting is a winner.
Twenty-one seasons with the Boston Bruins made Ray Bourque a legend in Boston. Even though it wasn't until joining the Colorado Avalanche that he won the Stanley Cup, Bourque chose Boston as the place to open his Italian restaurant, Tresca. There's a four-course tasting menu to help you navigate choosing between crespelle, vongoline, cioppino, osso bucco, maiale Abbruzzese, and other promising and authentic dishes.
Though he now plays in the NFL, quarterback Vince Young remains king in Austin for leading the University of Texas football team to the NCAA national championship in 2005. A few years ago he returned to his college stomping grounds to open his first restaurant downtown. The menu specializes in beef, from short rib chili to locally sourced Texas prime grade steaks and a rich Wagyu brisket burger balanced out by briny house-made pickles.
Vince Young Steakhouse
The menusat all three locations ofDa Coach's steakhousesare sprinkled with references to him, but if that's not enough, take a little bit of Ditka home by buying Da Coach's clothing and accessories, specialty wines, and cigars.
Menu highlights include the "Fullback Size" filet mignon with spinach and onion rings, and "Da Pork Chop." The restaurant was good enough to reach the ninth spot on our list of the25 Best Celebrity-Owned Restaurants.
AnAustralian grillein South Carolina? It might not be the first thing that comes to mind for the Southern states cuisine, but its there, set along the Intracoastal Waterway in the golfers paradise of North Myrtle Beach. From the open kitchen comes tuna sashimi crusted with sesame seeds served over a cucumber seaweed salad tossed in a plum vinaigrette, oven-roasted half duckling served with black pepper fettuccine and garnished with asparagus tips and a cherry ginger sauce, and slow-roasted 28 day-aged prime rib. The links legends signature chardonnays, rieslings, and cabernets round out the Wine Spectator Award for Excellence-recognized list of spirits.
Greg Norman’s Australian Grille
Walt "Clyde" Frazier opened his sprawling eponymous restaurant on the far west side of Manhattan in March of 2012, and its a floor to- ceiling paean to the gregarious Knicks legend and broadcaster, with wall-to-wall photo murals and portraits, and oftentimes the man himself on hand. The bar boasts three dozen TVs, theres an oak-paneled half basketball court (in all odds the citys only one in a restaurant), and portion sizes are generous. Menu items are all over the map, from wild mushroom ravioli to blackened salmon in vanilla-bourbon butter.
In Denver, John Elway is God. The former Broncos quarterback did what few legends have done: won his second Super Bowl in 1999, retired on top, and then stayed retired.His foray into fine dininghas been equally successful. He co-owns three eponymous restaurants, one in the Ritz-Carlton in downtown Denver, one in Denver's Cherry Creek neighborhood, and a third in Vail, Colo. The steakhouse menu will please carnivores with a cavemans appetite, but skirt the standards to find the creative apps and sides, like lamb chops dipped in green chile fondue, crunchy calamari tossed with stuffed olives and cherry peppers, and truffled beet and mozzarella salad.
The Ritz-Carlton, Denver
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers teamed with Milwaukee Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun to open this farm-to-table bar and restaurant in 2012. The restaurant gets its beef from nearby Hidden Creek Farm, and the comfort food-heavy menu includes items like Cheddar and Gouda tater tots, fried cheese curds, pastrami-spiced pork chop, and surf and turf.
8-Twelve MVP Bar & Grill