Sure. You have successful celebrity restaurant openings, like Nobu or Planet Hollywood. But for every successful food venture, you’ll have two or three restaurants that totally and completely bomb. Remember Britney Spears’ Nyla? Steven Speilburg’s Dive!?
And beyond restaurants, slapping your name on a food product may come from a good place, but not every celebrity can have a successful food empire like Jessica Alba or Gwyneth Paltrow. Smokey Robinson tried to use his soul music roots to launch frozen pot roasts, Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino sold $25 “couture” lollipops, and who can forget Donald Trump’s line of Sharper Image steaks?
Alaia on Fifth Avenue at 13th Street in Manhattan was never meant to be. Despite fully half of the Baldwin brothers taking part in opening the Mediterranean-inspired restaurant, Stephen and his brother Billy 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 shiny chairs and tables, but that wasn’t enough either. The restaurant closed soon after.
Roseanne Barr broke the mold with her ‘90s sitcom, which depicted working class life in innovative and hilarious ways. But not every TV show Roseanne touches is a hit. In summer 2011, the comedian had a reality show on Lifetime based on her macadamia nut farm. Unsurprisingly, it was called Roseanne's Nuts. The show was universally panned and cancelled after just a few episodes. It’s unclear whether or not Barr still owns the farm.
Back when he was Puff Daddy, Sean Combs opened two restaurants — called Justin’s in honor of his son — in New York City and Atlanta. Though the soul food restaurants lasted a decade, the New York location closed in 2007 under the guise of looking for a “larger space” that never materialized. In 2012, the Atlanta location shut down after reports that the restaurant was “dangerous and hazardous,” a situation that was further exacerbated by a shooting in the parking lot.
In 1997, Dances With Wolves actor Kevin Costner partnered with Jerry Kleiner (Marche, Red Light, Vivo) and Doug Zeif (Cheesecake Factory) to open The Clubhouse in Costa Mesa, California. The restaurant was meant to evoke the feelings one gets when at a yacht or golf club. Like Costner’s career, The Clubhouse had a solid run. It closed in 2009.
Legendary hip-hop songwriter and producer Jermaine Dupri expanded his ever-growing media portfolio in 2005 with the opening of Café Dupri in Atlanta. But the health-conscious creole-inspired restaurant shut its doors in 2008. According to an interview with All Hip-Hop, Dupri blamed the sinking economy. "The economy has changed dramatically and people just aren’t eating out as much anymore,” he said. “For the past two months business at the Café has been down and if the business isn’t making money, I feel it’s a smart move to shut it down. Bottom line: if it doesn’t make money, it doesn’t make sense.”
In 2007, NASCAR’s favorite son Dale Earnhardt Jr. partnered with the R.M. Palmer Company to release a line of Big Mo' milk chocolate bars, filled with either caramel of peanut butter filling. But despite Junior’s fame and rabid fan base, the candy bar never took off and seems to have been discontinued shortly after its launch.
Irving Mill could have been a New York phenomenon. Actors Jill Hennessy and Benjamin Bratt were investors, and its burger was the stuff of legends upon the restaurant’s opening in 2007. But the overly large space failed to take off. After tons of chef turnover and a lawsuit, Irving Mill closed in December 2009 and was taken over by Brother Jimmy’s BBQ.
Pastamania!, which opened Labor Day weekend in 1995 in Minnesota's Mall of America, was a labor of love for the Hulkster. Ads showed him decked out in yellow with a chef hat, holding a plate of spaghetti, and loving life. 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.
The economy was also the undoing of Pretenders’ frontwoman Chrissie Hynde’s vegan restaurant in her hometown of Akron, Ohio. She opened VegiTerranean in 2007, and the restaurant was a success, being named among the top five vegan restaurants in America by Business Week, the Akron Beacon Journal reported. However, in 2011, the economy once again came down hard on Hynde’s restaurant and it shut its doors.
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The former Public Enemy rapper has tried many times to launch fried chicken restaurants and failed repeatedly. He opened Flav's Fried Chicken in Iowa in 2011, but the restaurant closed after four months due to bounced checks and bad business decisions. He tried again with House of Flavor in 2012 and Flavor Flav's Chicken & Ribs shortly thereafter. Both restaurants were closed by July 2013.
Kim Kardashian may have a successful makeup and emoji line now, but not all of her business ventures have been a hit. In 2010, the Keeping Up With the Kardashians star partnered with Famous Cupcakes to release her own vanilla cupcake mix. For $13, KK fans got a mix for 18 cupcakes, cupcake liners, and pink sprinkles. But the cupcake mix fizzled out. If one looks for it now on Famous Cupcakes’ website, you get a 404 error.
Did you know Heidi Klum just loves fruit gummies? The German supermodel is apparently such a fan of this confection that she launched her own brand, Heidi Klum’s Fruit Flirtations, in 2006. She marketed the sugary, smiley face gummies as a fat-free health food. But, uh, all gummy candies are virtually fat-free. Health experts slammed Klum’s claims that her gummies were a healthy snack since they were loaded with sugar. Her gummies have since been discontinued.
The That ‘70s Show stars and BFFs opened their “intimate Italian eatery” Dolce Enoteca e Ristorante in Atlanta in 2007 to generally positive reviews. While it was good for getting a peek at celebrities, it was decidedly nothing special. It coasted along for a while before shutting its doors in 2012.
In 2012, actress Eva Longoria opened the upscale restaurant SHe in Las Vegas. The female-focused restaurant served smaller steaks for their clientele and had mirrors on the dessert menu so guests could fix their lipstick. This restaurant was more style than substance and was shut down by the health department in April 2014. It couldn’t bounce back from the hit and shut its doors one month later.
J.Lo tapped into her Puerto Rican roots to open Madre’s in Los Angeles back in 2002. Despite Jennifer Lopez’s major star status and guests who were always curious to find out what kind of food she eats, reviews of the restaurant were lackluster at best. Admittedly, the restaurant lasted longer than anyone expected. It stayed open for six years but finally shut down in July 2008.
One would probably expect Atlanta rapper Ludacris to open a restaurant inspired by his Southern roots, but nope! In 2008, he teamed up with chef Chris Yeo to open Asian-fusion restaurant Straits in Atlanta. Despite good food and decent reviews, Straits was too pricey at the end of the day and suffered from low guest turnout. It closed in 2012. But if you want to eat at one of Ludacris’ restaurants you still can. He opened up Chicken-n-Beer (after his album of the same name) at the Atlanta airport in November 2016.
To call Smokey Robinson a legend is a bit of an understatement. But not everything this Motown singer does is gold. In 2006, he launched Smokey Robinson Foods with the Down Home Pot Roast and Chicken and Sausage Gumbo. If that combination is confusing to you, congratulations! You’re not alone. Unlike his music, these frozen foods were not a hit. They are no longer in stores.
Fashion Cafe opened in New York's Rockefeller Plaza in 1995, backed by some of the hottest models of the '90s. But the combination of skinny people, high fashion, and food never really caught on with the general population. People just did not believe that the celebrity backers would ever eat fish and chips, chicken wings, or steak. The themed restaurant closed after a few years.
Want to get as swole as martial artist and actor Steven Seagal? He thought the answer for fans would be Steven Seagal’s Lightning Bolt, a 100 percent juice-based energy drink. Available in flavors such as root beer, cherry, and “Asian Experience,” this standard energy drink was never really successful. It’s no longer in production.
Suzanne Somers is one of the most successful pitchpeople out there, with Thighmaster sales booming for decades. But not everything she touches is golden. Along with her husband and investor former Kentucky Governor John Y. Brown Jr., Somers opened up Suzanne’s Kitchen, a DIY meal-prep service. If the concept sounds confusing, honestly, that’s because it is. Suzanne’s Kitchen tanked quickly, and investor John Shannon Bouchillon sued Somers for $400,000.
During the height of Jersey Shore madness on MTV, Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino launched The Situation lollipop. For $25, fans of the reality star would get a “couture” sucker attached to an illuminated, crystal studded Italian flag. It was launched (where else?) in Las Vegas but never seemed to get out of the Sugar Factory.
Nyla, Britney Spears’ chic Cajun-inspired restaurant in midtown Manhattan, is the most famous example of a failed celebrity restaurant. In March 2002, the pop star opened up the lounge restaurant in the Dylan Hotel, inspired by her home state Louisiana, but it quickly descended into debt. Spears ducked out of Nyla just eight months later, and it turned in to an Italian restaurant. It closed shortly thereafter.
If you love heavily-themed nautical restaurants, director Steven Spielberg’s Dive! was the place for you. In 1994, this Beverly Hills restaurant opened up with a diver every half hour, torpedo-shaped booths, underwater special effects, and presumably submarine sandwiches. Unsurprisingly, this niche restaurant failed to garner repeat customers or sell a lot of merchandise. Dive! went underwater in 1999.
Pop megastar Justin Timberlake, was a co-owner in a midtown Manhattan restaurant, Destino, which opened in 2006. The Italian restaurant was a celebrity hotspot but had a variety of problems, including “flood problems,” which were actually human excrement bursting out of the pipes. Unsurprisingly, Destino closed in 2013, though Timberlake reportedly ended his involvement in ’07. But don’t worry. If you still want to eat like JT, his restaurant Southern Hospitality is still open in New York. (A Daily Meal staffer who ate there called it “a barbecue joint” and “fine.”)
Donald Trump may have won the White House, but his business past is marked with many failed ventures, including the notorious Trump Steaks. Bafflingly, these were sold at the Sharper Image and Sharper Image CEO Jerry Levin told Rolling Stone these were a remarkably bad business idea. "We literally sold almost no steaks," he said. "If we sold $50,000 of steaks grand total, I'd be surprised." Trump Steaks failure should come as no surprise; Trump prefers his steaks well done and served with ketchup.
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