For a variety of reasons — an effort to diversify investments, to create a post-career business opportunity, ego or challenge — many gridiron heroes and ballpark messiahs have splashed their names on an establishment that also serves as a shrine to their athletic glory. For most, the formula is pretty standard: generic pub food, lots of TV’s, and even more memorabilia covering the walls. The only thing usually missing is the athlete. Don’t expect to spot Brett Favre greeting guests at his steakhouse in Green Bay.
Like a celebrity chef, sports stars have the name-brand recognition to pull in patrons, even if they are dead. Deceased New York Yankee great Mickey Mantle, Green Bay Packer coach Vince Lombardi, and Chicago Cubs' announcer Harry Caray, have some of the country's most popular sports-themed restaurants.
But the reality is that while a ballplayer’s endorsement might bring you in the door, many of these restaurants don’t have winning dishes. So we’ve compiled a top ten list that delivers, scores, is a slam dunk, home run, hole in one... however you want to call it.
On the West Coast, skateboarder Tony Hawk has invested in a restaurant whose kitchen is run by a James Beard Foundation “California Chef of the Year.” Meanwhile NFL quarterback Vince Young not only has a steakhouse in Austin, Texas, but also supplies his own brand of smoked meat to area grocery stores.
Often the most alluring restaurants don’t even hang the athlete’s name on the door. Michael Jordan’s first restaurant in Chicago, named after him, went belly-up. However his second Windy City attempt, one sixtyblue, is buzzing. Go figure.