Celebrity brands are flying around in department stores like wildfire. Lifestyle collections, clothing, footwear and more are being branded with celebrity names and selling fast. There are very few celebrity-owned businesses that are not branded with their names. Celebrities who own restaurants fall into that category generally get into the business because of a genuine interest.
Unfortunately, since the restaurants are not branded with the celebrity’s name, they often meet the same fate as the other 60 to 90 percent that go out of business each year.
Most star-struck fans would love to eat in a restaurant named Robert DeNiro or Eva Longoria. Yet, they the stars seem to avoid that level of restaurant branding so consequently more celebrity restaurants go out of business than anyone realizes. Danny DeVito, Jennifer Lopez, Ashton Kutcher and a myriad of others have opened restaurants that are now closed. Even Lisa Vanderpump’s Villa Blanca, which is a reasonably priced, beautifully decorated and comfortable restaurant in Beverly Hills is now for sale.
In truth, culinary-inspired celebrities may not realize beforehand that the restaurant business is not for just anyone. The key elements, no matter who the owners, are great chefs, location, scrumptious menus, atmosphere, price point and marketing. It truly takes a village.
To be as current as possible, we made our list of the most successful celebrity restaurants yesterday. Our selections are based on annual revenue for the market in which they are located, number of years in business and reviews.
10. Zoom – Robert Redford
If you find yourself visiting the enchanting Park City, stop in Robert Redford‘s Zoom restaurant for some of the local flavor. The epicurean menu includes items like Ahi Tuna Taco, Grilled Hearts of Romaine Salad and Buffalo Bayette with roasted marble potatoes, greens and blue cheese butter. Chef Ernesto Rocha is the creator behind the cuisine while Redford is the face.
The restaurant’s building is steeped in history as it was once the Union Pacific railroad depot that occupied the space since the late 1880s. We love it when celebrity restaurants add value to their surrounding area and Zoom has been a highlight since 1995.
9. 40/40 Club – Jay Z
Jay-Z is a visionary. He not only forged ahead with his musical success, he also envisioned the future of sports bars and lounges. In 2003 he got into the restaurant business to give New York sports-fans a place to hear live music and eat great food while steeped in sports memorabilia from some of the country’s most significant games.
The menu includes favorite sports bar fare along with some pretty creative dishes, such as the executive King Crab Sliders, Collared Greens with Tobacco Butter and Flame Grilled Tequila Chicken with corn and jalapeno salsa and Sweet Potato Donuts. Currently there are two locations: Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn and on W 25th street near Madison Square Garden.
8. Dominick’s – Rose McGowan, Laura Dern and Ben Harper
One of West Hollywood’s oldest restaurants, Dominick’s used to be a local hangout for the famous Rat Pack of yesteryear. It was opened in 1948 as a lounge and speakeasy and frequently saw the likes of Frank Sinatra and his gang. At the time, it was considered an exclusive hangout for friends and family.
It was bought out by the three talented entertainers, McGowan, Dern and Harper, who partnered with executive chef and co-owner Brandon Boudet. Their renovation focused on returning the location to a modern version of what it once was and its early years of success were again achieved. The place is always packed and is still a great place to star-gaze.
In keeping with the original atmosphere and menu, Chef Boudet offers wonderfully traditional Italian fare, such as Rice Balls with Mushrooms & Mozzarella, Housemade Rigatoni w/Crispy Eggplant and Whitefish Picatta.
7. Southern Hospitality – Justin Timberlake
This down home barbecue restaurant was founded in 2007 by partners Justin Timberlake, Eytan Sugarman and Trace Ayala after their success with Destino, a country style Italian restaurant. Although Destino has since closed, Southern Hospitality is still going strong. It truly is down-home comfort food and atmosphere where patrons have a plentiful selection of sliders, smoker specialties and much more.
The menu includes fusion dishes, such as Smokey Mountain BBQ Nachos and Philly Cheese Steak Eggrolls. The restaurant’s success is partly due to the owners’ understanding of what it takes to start small and build slowly. The business model has low risk and the owners are now offering franchise opportunities.
6. Cafe Zoetrope – Francis Ford Coppola
Anything with the Zoetrope name must be good. After all Coppola knows how to make an offer that no one can refuse, right? Coppola did name the cafe after his successful production company American Zoetrope. It is a warm, European-style cafe that offers traditional Italian cuisine. The interior is replete with original and unique memorabilia from Francis’s past successes, which adds a lot of warmth and almost like being invited into the Coppola‘s own living room.
It is located in San Francisco’s Sentinel Building, which is owned by Coppola and is a historic landmark in North Beach. The menu includes authentic Italian items such as Spaghetti all Puttanesca, Spaghetti alla Carbonara Classico and also adds an eclectic flare with items such as a New Orleans-style Muffaletta, Cobb Salad and an assortment of pizzas.
Some reviewers call this Coppola’s Masterpiece and the San Francisco diners have loved dining there for over 14 years.
5. Sur – Lisa Vanderpump
Because of Lisa Vanderpump‘s co-starring role on the Housewives of Beverly Hills, the restaurant Sur got to star in a reality show of its own, which is partly due to its huge success. The environment is all Hollywood, as it is obvious that the staff was selected for their above average looks and outside careers as models, actors and entertainers. We learned a lot about the restaurant through the staff’s interpersonal dramas on Vanderpump Rules, but that isn’t why it is on the list.
Lisa happens to be a magnificent restaurateur and oversees every last detail to ensure they are up to her high standards. The restaurant is clearly a hit and continues to receive great reviews based on the eclectic menu, luxurious decor and hip atmosphere. Some of the local favorites include traditional and unique pastas, Rack of Lamb, Skirt Steak and Seared Ahi.
Although the restaurant has not been in business much more than three years, it was an instant success. The reality show, of course, had a lot to do with incredible publicity that brought droves of people to the restaurant. But, it truly is Vanderpump’s magic touch.
4. Beso – Eva Longoria
Eva Longeria, best known for her role in the hit television series Desperate Housewives, is now a restaurateur par excellence. Longeria partnered with celebrity chef, Todd English, to develop the Latin-inspired steak and seafood restaurant. Evidently, Eva added a few of her own recipes and together she and English have rocked Hollywood with their upscale, romantic atmosphere.
The menu is creatively original and offers dishes like Lobster Quesadilla, Baby Back Ribs with black-eyed pea salsa and apple slaw and Grilled Pork Chop with raisins and sweet potato mash.
The restaurant has experienced over seven years of success, with outstanding reviews and fans.
3. Le Tagine – Ryan Gosling
Moroccan food is surprisingly popular in Los Angeles, especially since Ryan Gosling opened the doors of the Le Tagine restaurant in Beverly Hills. Of course, Chef Ben is the other part of this successful equation, as is sommelier, Chris Angulo.
Reviews refer to Le Tagine as “a hidden gem”, as it is a very small hideaway with a warm and inviting atmosphere. Soothing jazz plays in the background of the candlelit room that is decorated with mirrors, portraits and comfortable banquettes.
The menu was created to appeal to Moroccan aficionados and lovers of Mediterranean food. Some of the more unique dishes include Bastilla, which is Cornish hen and scrambled eggs in a light phyllo dough, Lemon Chicken Couscous and Grilled Quail.
Reports say Gosling put up a small fortune to open this labor of love and so far the restaurant has beat the restaurant closure rate and continues to grow in popularity. We call that success by anyone’s measure.
2. Nobu – Robert De Niro
Robert De Niro partnered with Chef Nobu Matsuhisa, they struck the perfect culinary chord. The flagship restaurant is located in the Tribeca district of Manhattan, not far from De Niro’s Tribeca Grill, and is considered one of NYC’s finest Japanese restaurants. Always busy and generally a great place for celebrity-sighting, Nobu’s sushi and sashimi menu is vast and popular.
Chef Nobu’s special creations are exciting and the menu displays his culinary genius. There are now 30 Nobu locations throughout the world, including Europe, Asia-Pacific, the Middle East, Africa, Mexico and the Caribbean. There seems to be no stopping this duo.
1. Market Restaurant – Tony Hawk
Down the street from the famous Del Mar Race Track is top skateboarder’s, Tony Hawk’s, culinary masterpiece, Market Restaurant. Chef/Proprietor Carl Schroeder’s menu is changed daily and is classified as master chef quality. His artistry permeates the menu selections, the fresh preparation and the detailed presentation of all of the dishes. Some of the current favorites include Maytag Blue Cheese Souffle & Sweet White Nectarines, Duck Confit & Sour Cherries and Local Grapefruit & Avocado Salad.
Del Mar is a city slightly north of the beautiful city of San Diego, and has a solo location in a fairly non-commercial area, so the food and atmosphere must be outstanding. The restaurant is considered one of the best and most successful celebrity restaurants in the country by renowned food critics, reviewers and locals alike.