All of us, no matter how serious, academic or indifferent we are, have an inherent partiality to fame and celebrity. I once chanced upon two dead-serious executives who, in the middle of a rather serious meeting, sheepishly mentioned that years ago they went to Madre Restaurant in Pasadena just to catch a glimpse of J Lo. They were not able to, of course, but they took pride in the fact that they got to dine there and (I guess) proud of the fact that they sat on the chair which J Lo might have sat on, too. That brought me to wonder just exactly how many of our favorite celebrities are in the restaurant business. I found out there’s quite a number of them. Here are 7 of my favorites:
1. Justin Timberlake – Destino and Southern Hospitality. Not contented on being a Grammy and Emmy Awardee, pop musician and actor Justin Timberlake became part owner of Destino in 2006 and Southern Hospitality in 2007. Destino focuses on traditional home-style Italian dishes while Southern Hospitality serves barbecue menu.
2 . Ashton Kutcher – Dolce and Geisha House. Gorgeous actor and comedian Ashton Kutcher invested in Dolce, a traditional Italian restaurant (they serve Italian tapas!) in Atlanta, and Geisha House, a Japanese-themed restaurant in Hollywood and Sta. Ana, California. Other than being a modern Japanese Restaurant, Geisha House is also a Sushi Bar as well as a Sake Lounge.
3. Eva Langoria, Beso. Who would have thought that Gabrielle wanted to be a restaurateur? Desperate Housewives’ Eva Langoria started Beso on Hollywood Boulevard in 2008, “a Latin approach to classic steakhouse cuisine.” They also opened a branch in Las Vegas but closed it early this year.
4. Kanye West, Fatburger. Another one of the celebrities in the restaurant business is rapper Kanye West, who obtained franchise rights to develop 10 Fatburger stands across Chicago. He has then opened two, one of which was shut down after sometime. But the one in Beverly is still doing well.
5. Robert De Niro, Tribecca Grill, Nobu. Famous Academy awardee Robert De Niro have had Tribecca Grill since 1990, and since then has become one of New York’s restaurant landmarks. He later had Nobu New York in 1994, wherein he partnered with renowned Japanese chef Nobu Matsuhisa. Over the years, Tribecca Grill became famous for its wine selections, while Nobu became famous for its sushi bars.
6. Sylvester Stallone, Planet Hollywood, Bucca di Beppo. One of the original owners of Planet Hollywood, Sly had another acquisition last 2009 in the form of Bucca di Beppo, an authentic Italian restaurant famous for serving family sized portions.
7. Gloria and Emilio Estefan, Bongo’s Cuban Café. Musician couples Gloria and Emilio Estefan are also one of the celebrities who owns a restaurant business, owning seven strategic branches of Bongo’s Cuban Café, located in Miami, Orlando, Mexico City and Mexico. Bongo’s Cuban Café is a restaurant and nightclub that is well-known for its superb food and Latin parties.