While there’s no doubt a number of reasons why celebrities decide to own a restaurant, only a few restaurants are fortunate enough to have both good food and celebrity-backing.
Some celebrities may have an obsessive interest and deep love for good food and fine dining, while others are only interested in an investment, using their notoriety and name to create an eating establishment as a source of additional income.
Best Celebrity-Owned Restaurants
Whatever the reason, only a few have discovered the secrets to culinary success. After reviewing several sources, we listed 20 of our picks for the best restaurants celebrity-owned restaurants.
1) Michael Jordan’s Steakhouse in New York City
Cuisine: Modern American Steakhouse
Ted Pryor is the executive chef at the New York location, his signature dish is a lush Brioche Crab Cake. There are also Chicago and Connecticut locations.
2) Robert De Niro’s Nobu in New York City
Nobu Next Door in New York City originally opened as an extension of Nobu but has become its own special place. A wall of seaweed, or nori, frames the entrance door. There are now several other Nobus around the world.
Cuisine Tex Mex & BBQ
The country music star opened Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill in 2005 in Oklahoma City, Okla., (and in Tulsa). Others have since opened, but they’ve supposedly been licensed. Regardless, there are high ceilings, large neon beer bottles, and oversized pictures of Keith with his patriotic guitar held above his head. Food-wise, it’s all about Tex-Mex and barbecue. Nachos, chips, and queso with salsa. Favorites on the menu include St. Louis ribs, chicken fried steak, meatloaf, and sandwiches made with cheese, steak, chicken, and fish.
4) Robert Redford’s Zoom in Park City, Utah
Cuisine: American Continental
The restaurant is in an old Union Pacific railroad depot. Zoom in Park City, Utah is part of Robert Redford’s Sundance Resort.
5) Gladys and Ron’s Chicken and Waffles — Gladys Knight in Atlanta (Closed)
The singer/songwriter developed her chicken and waffles joint with Ron Winans and her son Shanga Hankerson, who continues the tradition. There are two branches of Gladys Knight & Ron Winan’s Chicken And Waffles in Atlanta. Besides chicken and waffles, other menu fare includes barbecue turkey wings and Southern fare like smothered chicken, collard greens, and of course, grits.
Cafe Zoetrope is named for producer/director Francis Ford Coppola’s production company, American Zoetrope. The self-described European-style café is located in San Francisco’s historic Sentinel Building, offering “authentic Italian cuisine,” which apparently consists of wood-fired pizzas, pasta, and rustic fare rounded out by muffalettas and chilaquiles.
13 locations across the country
The very first House of Blues opened its doors in a converted historical house in Cambridge, Mass. in 1992. It hosted live music, original folk art, and delta-inspired cuisine.
“Who owns The Spotted Pig?” the restaurant’s website coyly asks, answering with, “April Bloomfield, Ken Friedman, and some pals.” A Gawker post back in 2007 was a little more specific. “Some pals” included: Mario Batali, Fatboy Slim, Jay Z, Bono, Michael Stipe, Michael Guido, and U2’s longtime manager Paul McGuinness. The packed West Village gastro-pub is a critic’s darling. Highlights include the chargrilled burger with Roquefort and shoestrings, sheep’s milk ricotta gnudi with brown butter, and sage, and the deviled eggs.
Locations across the country
Cuisine: Caribbean- American
They’re famous for the burgers and expect to hear Buffett’s hits playing in the background throughout your meal.
10) Dominick’s — Rose McGowan, Laura Dern, and Ben Harper
West Hollywood, CA (Closed)
The original Dominick’s, opened in 1948, was a Rat Pack spot. Today’s incarnation takes a flier on that, touting “speakeasy tunes and lounge standards.” The restaurant is owned by actress Rose McGowan with actress Laura Dern and musician Ben Harper as partners. Executive chef (and also co-owner) Brandon Boudet’s menu is said to invoke “memories of simple Italian cuisine from the heart of Little Italy,” which savvy New Yorkers would say is a bad thing unless you’re talking about media darling, Torrisi.
11) Richard Gere’s Bedford Post Inn in Bedford, NY
Gere owns the restaurant with his wife and Westchester residents Carey Lowell, Russell Hernandez. There are two restaurants at the Inn, The Barn, and The Farmhouse.
12) Christy’s in Long Beach, CA
owned by Sonny Bono’s daughter (Closed)
Although not a celebrity but a celebrity’s daughter. Christy’s signature dish is rigatoni con carne and offers other signature dishes inherited from her late father, Sonny Bono.
13) Mike Ditka’s Restaurant
“Da Coach is in the restaurant most evenings, greeting and acknowledging his many fans and customers,” Ditka’s site notes. But which one! Da Coach has three steakhouses, one in Pittsburgh, Chicago, and Oakbrook. Even if Ditka isn’t there, the menus are sprinkled with references to him: Coach’s pot roast, Mike’s salad (with nachos!), Coach’s meatloaf stack, Mike’s fries, the 30 oz. Bone-In “Ditka Cut,” and Coach’s Prime Locker (prized steaks).
14) Brett Favre’s Steakhouse in Green Bay, Wisc.
Cuisine: American classic with a southern flare
The walls are covered in Packer memorabilia from the team’s and Favre’s glory days.
15) Ashton Kutcher and Wilmer Valderrama’s Dolce Enoteca e Ristorante in Atlanta
Cuisine: Modern Italian
On the restaurant’s website, the atmosphere is described as such: “Imagine the night stars glimmering through a canopy of trees as a young woman in hip hugger jeans sips a Dolce Flirtini on the patio.”
Skateboarding may not be considered the king of sports, but on this list at least, the restaurant’s skateboarding celebrity investor reigns above all others. Tony Hawk’s Market Restaurant and Bar in Del Mar, Calif., tops this list with a score of 77. That’s in part because of the fresh, well-received California fare by Chef Carl Shcroeder (a protégé of Michael Mina and Bardley Ogden), a James Beard Foundation “California Chef of the Year.”
17) Chris North’s The Cutting Room in New York City
Cuisine: Eclectic American Cuisine
Opened since 1999, celebrities such as Norah Jones, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kid Rock, Vanessa Carlton, Chris Rock, Russel Crowe, and Sheryl Crow have performed at The Cutting Room.
18) Elway’s — John Elway in Denver
As Matt McCue noted in The Daily Meal’s 10 Best Athlete-Owned Restaurants, “In Denver, John Elway is God.” The former Bronco quarterback did what few legends have — won his second Super Bowl in ’99, retired on top, and stayed retired. His foray into fine dining is equally successful. He co-owns two eponymous restaurants, one in the Ritz-Carlton downtown, the other in Cherry Creek. The steakhouse menu will please carnivores with a caveman’s appetite, but skirts standards to find creative appetizers and sides.
Los Angeles hasn’t been known for Moroccan fare. That could change with Tagine in Beverly Hills, a restaurant where actor Ryan Gosling holds a major stake. Chef Abdessamad Benameur combines traditional recipes with contemporary French and Spanish twists. At last check, there wasn’t a Zagat rating, but good buzz, positive reviews, and its addition to Zagat’s list of top celebrity-owned spots merit it an honorable mention.
Writers Sebastian Junger and Scott Anderson joined producer/director Nanette Burstein to open The Half King (named for an obscure 18th-century Seneca chief) in Chelsea about 11 years ago. Other literary pubs haven’t fared nearly as well as this New York Magazine Critic’s Pick. It serves well-priced bar and traditional Irish pub fare. There’s a 30-foot bar, outdoor seating, garden, and late-night menu Monday to Saturday ’til 2 a.m.