16 Failed Celebrity-Owned Restaurants
October 17, 2014
Just because they can act doesn’t mean they can run a restaurant
Failed Celebrity-Owned Restaurants
Far more restaurants fail than succeed, and a celebrity’s name doesn’t guarantee a restaurant’s success.
Britney Spears: Nyla, New York City
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The marriage of postal abbreviations for New York and Louisiana must have seemed like a good idea. So did a pop star opening a restaurant in the Dylan Hotel in Midtown Manhattan. It didn't work out. Britney moved on after just six months, the menu changed from Cajun to Italian, and the business had incurred $400,000 in debts. The ex-teen queen then moved on to tackle many other personal issues.
Steven Spielberg: Dive!, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Barcelona
It took five years for Dive! to go under, and a location in Vegas (and a franchise in Barcelona) had to open first. But eventually the restaurant — a creation of director Steven Spielberg, owned in part by producer Jeffrey Katzenberg — did fail.
This goofy, submarine-themed restaurant served nautical-themed fare and "gourmet" subs — Spielberg's inspiration, because, supposedly, he couldn't find anyone to make a sandwich the way he liked it — in an environment with computer-generated "underwater" special effects, catwalks, exposed conduits, gauges, throttles, control panels, and "dives" every half-hour where sirens and lights go off while commands of "Dive!" echoed around the dining room.
Chrissie Hynde: VegiTerranean, Akron, OH
Pretenders vocalist Chrissie Hynde opened a vegan restaurant in downtown Akron in 2007, but four years later it closed for good. “We tried everything we could to keep the restaurant going but unfortunately due to the current economic climate this has not been possible,” Hynde said in a statement.
Ludacris: Straits, Atlanta
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Rapper Ludacris (Chris Bridges) opened Straits, an Asian fusion restaurant, in Midtown Atlanta in 2008, and the fare from chef Chris Yeo, including “Kung Pow Lollipops,” was met with decent reviews. The prices were astronomical, however, and many of Ludacris’ fans stayed away for that reason. The restaurant closed in early 2012, ostensibly so Bridges could work on his second restaurant concept, Chicken N Beer, located in Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport.
Stephen and William Baldwin: Alaia, New York City
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''We don't want this to be the next Moomba,'' said a party involved in the restaurant, quoted by The New York Times' Florence Fabricant . ''Those places come and go. We're here to stay.'' Sure, buddy.
Alaia was never meant to be. Despite half the Baldwin brothers investing time, money, energy, and Stephen Baldwin's older daughter's name into the place on Fifth Avenue at 13th Street in Manhattan, he and his brother William weren't able to make the place a hit. After opening early in 1999, they changed the name to Luahn, creating a sleek lounge with velvet chairs, then changed the name to Society 5, when Stephen ended his involvement. It shuttered not long after.
Kevin Costner: The Clubhouse, Costa Mesa, Calif.
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You've got to admit, 10 years is a pretty good run, and you can hardly blame the entire failure of The Clubhouse on Kevin Costner. After all, according to the Los Angeles Times, the restaurant's general partners included Jerry Kleiner (Marche, Red Light, Vivo), Doug Zeif (Cheesecake Factory), and investing celebrities like Jack Nicklaus, Fred Couples, and Robert Wagner. But after opening in 1999 in Costa Mesa, the restaurant did eventually fade out, not unlike Costner's career, until it was reported as closing in 2009.
Hulk Hogan: Pastamania!, Minneapolis
This one's just too easy. Pastamania!, which opened Labor Day weekend in 1995 in Minnesota's Mall of America in Bloomington, was by all accounts created and financed by the Hulkster. Ads showed him decked out in yellow with a chef hat, holding a plate of spaghetti, and looking as surprised as you would be to see him doing so. Despite amazing menu options like "Hulk-A-Roos" and Hogan’s efforts to promote Pastamania! on WCW Monday Nitro, the restaurant closed within a year. Hogan is still involved in the restaurant game with Hogan’s Beach in Tampa, but now he’s battling accusations that its dress code is racist.
Sean Combs: Justin’s, Atlanta, New York, NY
Sean Combs opened Justin’s in New York City in 1997 (back in his Puff Daddy days), and the following year a second location of the restaurant, named after his son, opened in Atlanta. In 2007 the New York location closed (Combs claimed that they were looking for a larger space, but that never materialized), and in 2012 the Atlanta location shut down after reports that the restaurant was “dangerous and hazardous,” further exacerbated by a shooting in the parking lot.
Jennifer Lopez: Madre's, Los Angeles
Jennifer Lopez opened her Puerto Rican restaurant in Pasadena in 2002 (the Affleck period). As Eater LA reported when it closed in 2008, "With lackluster reviews but a pretty steady stream of people who wanted to taste what they thought J.Lo eats, Madre's lasted much longer than anyone, even J.Lo herself, anticipated." Despite its fairly decent run, just as her relationships with Affleck and Marc Anthony ended, so too did the restaurant eventually fail.
Scott Disick: RYU, New York
One of the most epic restaurant disasters of 2012, this Meatpacking District Japanese restaurant co-owned by reality TV star Scott Disick lasted just five months before closing after Hurricane Sandy. Disick later bailed, the restaurant resorted to selling cheesesteaks and waffle fries through a to-go window, and less than a month later it closed for good.
Christy Turlington, Claudia Schiffer, Elle MacPherson, Naomi Campbell: The Fashion Café, New York City
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Fashion Café opened in New York's Rockefeller Plaza, backed by some of the hottest models of the '90s: Christy Turlington, Claudia Schiffer, Elle MacPherson, and Naomi Campbell. It drew enough attention that the critic for The New York Times, Ruth Reichl, stopped by to check it out.
The critic lost her appetite after waiting an hour for lunch on a Monday and being forced to see "so many skinny people in form-fitting clothes." Reichl eventually found the food "surprisingly decent," but she wasn't the only one to find the theme of sex and food tired; Fashion Café closed after a few years.
Flava-Flav: Flava-Flav’s Fried Chicken, Clinton, Iowa; House of Flavor, Las Vegas; Flavor Flav’s Chicken & Ribs, Detroit
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Flava-Flav has had pretty bad luck with restaurants. His first try, an Iowa fried chicken restaurant, closed after four months due to bounced checks and low staff retention. House of Flavor closed within six months, and his most recent outing, Flavor Flav’s Chicken & Ribs, was evicted after less than a year in business due to unpaid rent.
Jermaine Dupri: Café Dupri, Atlanta
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Rapper and record producer Jermaine Dupri experienced success with his record label So So Def Recordings, but his culinary effort, Café Dupri, met indifferent palates. It opened in Atlanta's overwrought Buckhead in the summer of 2005, serving "high-quality menu items that are also healthy," with dreams of franchising locations in New York, Japan, "and elsewhere."
Eva Longoria: SHe by Morton’s, Las Vegas
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In 2012, actress Eva Longoria opened an upscale “female-focused steakhouse” in a Las Vegas steakhouse, focused on smaller steaks for female clientele. Even though it was backed by restaurant behemoth Landry’s, it closed after two years, largely thanks to a health inspection that shut it down after 32 food violations.
Ashton Kutcher and Wilmer Valderrama: Dolce Enoteca e Ristorante, Atlanta
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The That ‘70s Show stars opened this “intimate Italian eatery” to generally positive reviews back in 2007, and coasted along for a while before quietly closing in early 2012. While it was good for people-watching, it was decidedly nothing special, even though Valderrama would occasionally hang out there.