Celebrities dabbling in other fields is nothing new: actors release albums, singers appear in movies, and so on and so forth. But restaurants are a bit rarer among stars as a side business, likely because getting one opened and keeping it in the black takes a substantial amount of work, even if you’re only bankrolling the process. After all, no one wants their name attached to a failed endeavor. But there are plenty of success stories for celebrities who’ve indulged their foodie side, and here are ten of them.
10) Eva Longoria
Desperate Housewives alumni Eva Longoria teamed up with celebrity chef Todd English in 2008 to open Beso, a glitzy modern restaurant in Hollywood. Combining classic steakhouse fare with Latin cuisine, there’s also an extensive wine list and cocktail menu. Originally, it shared its upper floor with the Kiss Lounge, a nightclub that has since closed. The upper floor has been remodeled as the Estate Room, a private room available to Beso guests. The first attempt at extending Beso saw a location being opened in Las Vegas, but it went under, forcing Longoria to file for bankruptcy protection for the restaurant. Despite setbacks, though, she remains optimistic about new Las Vegas opportunities, on which she plans to have a more “pro-active and hands-on approach”, according to the Las Vegas Sun.
9) Anthony Mackie
Most actors, when they decide to open a bar don’t actually build the bar. But Anthony Mackie not only works behind the bar of NoBar, his Bed-Stuy bar, he also built most of it, from the bar back to the custom-made flooring. NoBar, besides serving drinks offers a range of Cajun and creole dinner options, as well as live music, and karaoke and trivia nights. The bar’s well reviewed, and Mackie works behind the counter when he’s not working on movies. He’s also planning to open another NoBar location in Williamsburg, though he explains that it will have its own personality, but hopefully retain the first location’s sense of community.
8) Ryan Gosling
It’s not enough that Ryan Gosling acts, is widely considered to be one of Hollywood’s handsomest and plays half the instruments in an adorably spooky band. He’s also one of the minds behind Tagine, a gourmet Moroccan restaurant in Beverly Hills. Tagine strives to offer guests both an intimate, welcoming atmosphere and delicious food. The restaurant came into being when caterer Chef Abdessamad Ben Benameur catered an event that Ryan Gosling attended. Gosling loved the food, saying he would eat it “everyday for the rest of his life”, which lead to a fast friendship and an interest in creating a place where the food was great and the atmosphere welcoming. This, in turn, lead to the creation of Tagine.
7) Sandra Bullock
Aside from Walton’s, the general store in Austin she owns, Sandra Bullock also has a restaurant. She founded Bess Bistro, on Austin’s West 6th Street in 2006. Built into an old bank building, Bess Bistro’s kitchen was once the bank’s vault, but now turns out casually elegant offerings, from croque monsieur to fried green tomatoes. The restaurant is well reviewed, winning good reviews from both Zagat and the Conde Nast Traveller’s Hot Tables List.
6) Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan’s first run in with restaurants was Michael Jordan‘s Restaurant, a sports restaurant that ran from 1993 to 1999, though the restaurant only used his name, and he had no stake in it. His latest endeavor, however, is one he’s far more involved in. The Michael Jordan Steakhouse opened in New York in 1997, and has been going strong since, with other Michael Jordan Steakhouses in both Connecticut and Chicago. Unlike Michael Jordan’s Restaurant, Michael Jordan Steakhouses are not sports-themed, and instead focus on Jordan as a businessman, providing an upscale, though still family-friendly experience for diners. The steaks, cooking tools and sauces used in the steakhouses can also be ordered through its website, and shipped throughout the world.
5) Pete Wentz
The first location of Fallout Boy bassist Pete Wentz‘s bar Angels & Kings opened in New York in 2007. Reportedly, the idea for Angels & Kings was born as Pete sought somewhere for he and his friends to hang out. The bar opened to great fanfare in 2007, and a year later, a second location in Chicago was opened. Since then, however, the franchise has run into some trouble: the New York location was closed in 2012 after receiving three citations for serving alcohol to minors. But the Chicago location has stayed open, moving into Chicago’s Carbide & Carbon building in 2011. The bar offers live music and guest DJs most nights of the month, as well as deals for party-goers, including a range of bottle service options.
4) Richard Gere
The 90s sex-symbol has retired that label gracefully, and is trying his hand at the label of hotelier. He, alongside Carey Lowell and Russell Hernandez started work on the Bedford Post Inn in 2007. It’s an eight-room luxury inn, housed in a restored heritage building (dating back to the 1860s) that houses a yoga studio and two restaurants. Campagna is the more formal option, while the Barn is a more casual affair that offers breakfast, lunch and dinner during the week and brunch on the weekends. The menus are highly variable and geared towards sharing, though customers rave about the Barn’s burgers, while Richard Gere himself is more proud of the dessert menu. At the moment, Campagna is closed for renovations, but the Barn remains open.
3) Robert de Niro
Robert De Niro has played ambitious gangsters on film, but if he’s trying to build an empire in the real world, it’s focused on food rather than anything illicit. He’s a partner in two restaurants, Nobu and Locanda Verde.
Nobu, which opened in 1993 was De Niro’s first foray into the restaurant business. After meeting chef Nobu Matsuhisa at his Matsuhisa restaurant in Beverly Hills, he invited him to set up a restaurant in New York. The result is Tribeca’s Nobu, a Michelin-starred restaurant famous for its innovative take on Japanese cuisine.
His other restaurant is Locanda Verde, which offers casual Italian dining, under the direction of culinary wunderkind Andrew Carmellini. The menu’s offers antipasti, pastas and secondi, inspired by urban Italian offerings.
2) Jim Belushi & Dan Aykroyd
The Blues Brothers are a successful entrepreneurial force in real life, though we hope there was a little less chaos involved in Jim Belushi and Dan Aykroyd‘s founding of the House of Blues franchises then there was in the fundraising antics of The Blues Brothers. The two teamed up with Isaac Tigrett, and opened their first location in 1992 in Cambridge Massachusetts. The original location has since closed, but there are thirteen locations currently operating in the US, nine of which offer feature VIP membership options. The restaurant’s menu offers Americana with an international twist, developed by chef Aaron Sanchez. But equally as tempting as the food is the music: the House of Blues franchise is devoted to the blues and all its related genres, with bands like the Pretty Reckless, Logic and Needtobreathe currently touring the venues.
1) Jon Bon Jovi
Bon Jovi’s gone somewhere very interesting with his New Jersey restaurant the Soul Kitchen. Established in 2011, the restaurant takes no reservations, you’ll likely be seated with people you don’t know, and, oh yeah, there are no prices on the menu. The idea is that you can pay for your meal two ways: with a minimum $10 donation or an hour of volunteer work in the restaurant (the volunteer option can also help you qualify for job training). The Soul Kitchen’s goal is to eradicate hunger in the community, while building and celebrating community relationships.
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