If chefs are the new rock stars, where does that leave the rock stars? They’re not all exactly putting down their guitars and picking up spatulas just yet, but today’s successful recording artist is expected to own a palette of other businesses in order to build their empire.
Restaurants are vanity projects for some and true passions for others, and the proof is always in the pudding.
Here’s a list of some musicians who have made it in the dining world-from casino drinking spots to sports bars to hokey Northern “Southern” style grills.
Lady Gaga: Joanne Trattoria
There are few overt clues that this neighborhood Italian cafe, named for Lady Gaga’s late aunt, has any ties to pop music’s infamous Mother Monster – that is, except for the Gaga Winery varietals on the wine list. The main menu, overseen by executive chef Art Smith, includes dishes based on recipes from Gaga’s mother and other relatives.
Jon Bon Jovi: JBJ Soul Kitchen
Jon Bon Jovi opened this unique, community-minded restaurant in 2011. It has a pay-what-you-can business model (the menu has no prices) and also offers the option of doing volunteer work in exchange for meal vouchers.
Justin Timberlake: Southern Hospitality
JT’s barbecue spot in the Hell’s Kitchen section of Manhattan is definitely not a “Suit and Tie” kind of place. Instead, he’s brought messy comfort food back with a casual eatery that has a down-home bar feel. He maintains this original location and has franchised out another Southern Hospitality restaurant in Denver.
The country star showcases up and coming live artists at his casual restaurants. The bar might come first in the name, but he’s got big steaks and barbecue on the grill. He’s also managed to expand the franchise into two casino locations, so he’s betting big on the concept.
The rapper opened his first sports bar in New York City in 2003. Since then, he’s expanded to two other locations in Atlantic City, New Jersey and Las Vegas.
Wing Stop (Rick Ross)
Rick Ross isn’t just the boss in hip hop- he’s stacking up tons of cash in the chicken biz too and it sounds like he’s planning a wing takeover. Rick says he instantly knew … “That’s not your regular colored chicken” — which is why he now OWNS a bunch of franchises. How dedicated is the Maybach Music boss to Wingstop? Back in 2011 …press got a shot of him outside a Memphis branch … hours after he’d suffered 2 seizures!
KISS: Rock & Brews
Music icons Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley want to open 100 locations of their franchise – a burger and pizza joint that serves as a tribute to the love of rock music and craft beer – over the next five years. Lofty ambitions, perhaps, but they’ve opened three in the past year (including one in Cabo). Stanley is an avowed foodie, and Simmons is nothing if not a master at merchandising the KISS lifestyle.
Fatburger – Kanye West/ Queen Latifah
Fatburger has burgers that get you fat. It’s not just a clever name. It’s a reality. With thick greasy burgers and even a burg with a fried egg on top, Fatburgers will fatify your ass in .5 seconds flat. And yes, they are totally delicious. Apparently this sentiment is shared by both Queen Latifah and Kanye West who have snatched up a few Fatburger franchises, adding the fast food chain to their many conquests in and out of the music industry.
Justin’s By ”P-Diddy”
If Sean “P.Diddy” Combs has a chance to slap his name on something he’ll do it. He’s the king of endorsements and business partnerships. Yet, with Justin’s, his NYC and Atlanta’s restaurants, Combs says the effort is a family affair. Named after Puffy’s son Justin, not Mr. Timberlake, and reportedly inspired by his grandmother’s cooking, Justin’s serves up blackened stuffed catfish, West Indian curry chicken, and a cocktail embarrassingly named the “Pussy Kat Relaxer.”
Straits – Ludacris
When rappers make it big, they hire super smart business people to manage their fortunes, and often, a restaurant makes it onto the list of financial endeavors. Ludacris teamed up with chef Chris Yeo in 2007 to expand the well-regarded restaurateur’s Straits Asian kitchen to Atlanta. The high end cuisine seems to fit the man with a penchant for Cadillac grills.
So there you have it!
Do you know any Kenyan restaurant owned by a local musician? Do let us know!