As entertaining as the idea of celeb-owned restaurants might be, I’m of the opinion that they’re pretty dumb. Listen. I know we all want to be the one buddy cool enough to have a place for friends and family to hang out, drink, and eat good food, but jeez, why do all celebrity vanity projects need to be restaurants? Might as well just give me the money.
Why celebrities should avoid opening restaurants
I get wanting to be known as a successful business owner and not just, say, an awesome actor, but opening up a restaurant is not the way to go. First off, restaurant failure rates are high enough that you stand a pretty good chance of flopping within your first year. A piece by Toast (a restaurant point-of-sale service company), suggests that restaurant failure rates hover around 30% during their first year of operation.
It’s already hard enough if your restaurant fails, but imagine being someone famous whose new business venture took a massive shit. The humiliation would sting pretty badly, considering your reputation as a celebrity is already in the public eye. That can’t be fun, no matter who you are.
The many celebrity restaurants that failed
Mashed has a list of failed celebrity restaurants, and wow, there’s some doozies in there. How did I not know that Steven Spielberg had a nautical-themed restaurant called Dive! that specialized in submarine sandwiches (I can’t even make this up)? It was originally started in Los Angeles in 1994, and it closed its doors in 1999. (A Las Vegas outpost, the only other one, closed in the early 2000s.)
Eva Longoria had a few spots that flopped, Justin Timberlake didn’t fare so well, and even J-Lo had one that croaked too (though that took a slow six years). I remember when Pete Wentz from Fall Out Boy had a bar here in Chicago called Angels and Kings, which I always thought was sort of hilarious. (Its New York location was shut down due to underage drinking, reported NBC4 back in 2009.)
I do grudgingly admit that on certain occasions, celebrities jumping on rare occasions to save a business is pretty okay, like when Trey Parker and Matt Stone purchased Casa Bonita. And if you want to collab with a restaurant, that’s cool too. (Celeb chefs get an exception mostly because it’s job-related.)
So if you’re a celebrity, might I suggest you sell weird dumb shit like Gwyneth Paltrow instead? NBA star Jimmy Butler’s coffee gig is still going strong. Just, whatever you do, don’t go into the restaurant business. For your sake and bear, leave it to the professionals.