The restaurant ownership is the top new celebrity accessory

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Celebrities from Channing Tatum to Eminem have become attracted towards the owning of restaurants to add in their resumes for several reasons.


In his song, Jimmy Buffet sang “I wish lunch would last forever”, and in Cheeseburger in Paradise, he sang “I like mine with lettuce and tomato Heinz 57 and french-fried potato big kosher pickle and a cold draft beer Good God Almighty! Which way do I steer?”


All of these lines of the songs sung by Jimmy Buffet, he even did not know until his 30s that his sad melody of “Margirtaville” where he used to face most of his hard times will become a billion dollars hospitality chain for the celebrity. Now under the banner of “Margaritaville”, there are numerous restaurants, casinos, retail locations, and cruises are running all around the world making millions and billions of dollars every year.


According to Variety, this chain made $1.5 billion to $2 billion until the year 2019. As per this study, the Buffet has become one of the top 57 Forbes celebrities that are now known for the highest paid celebrities.


Celebrities have been getting into the hospitality business for a while now. Buffet started it all in the late ’80s, when he opened the first Margaritaville in Key West, Florida. A few years later, Robert De Niro got NobuMatsuhisa to open a New York City restaurant. It took a few years, but the first Nobu finally opened in Tribeca in 1994.


While Buffett is one of the most well-known musicians who turned to hospitality, he’s not the only celebrity to do so. In the late ’80s, a few years after Buffett opened the first Margaritaville in Key West, Florida, Robert De Niro was pitching Nobu, a restaurant that’s become a celebrity hotspot, to chef NobuMatsuhisa in New York City. It took several years for De Niro to convince the chef that a New York restaurant was worth the risk.


Until recently, celebrities expanding beyond the industry that made them famous was uncommon. Such moves were mostly reserved for the best of the best, like De Niro, Dolly Parton, or Michael Jordan. But now it’s 2022, things are different, and everyone needs a side hustle: Seth Rogen is selling bongs! LeBron James tried to trademark the phrase “Taco Tuesday!” Beyoncé not only has the clothing line Ivy Park, but also co-owns trainer Marco Borges’s.


But what does it actually mean when a celebrity puts their name on a restaurant? There are many answers, but one thing is for sure – you won’t see Luke Bryan rolling up his sleeves in his restaurant’s kitchen or Dierks Bentley leading customers to their table at Whiskey Row. However, many of these celebrities at least claim to be steering their establishments: A representative for Lambert tells Eater that Lambert had “been thinking about a concept bar/restaurant for a while, so it was a natural extension of her brand”.


Tyler Hubbard from Florida Georgia Line says that the group has been considering opening a restaurant for a while. He told People, “It was something [Brian Kelley] and I always thought would be neat, whether it was a bar or a restaurant — we’ve talked about opening a coffee shop before. We have a knack for food and beverage; taking care of our friends and our people.” (FGL also has a knack for monetization: After singing about Fireball whiskey in their song “Round Here,”)


There’s no doubt that having a restaurant with your name or personalized branding is appealing for celebrities wanting exposure and to give their fans conditional access to their personalities through the dining experience. However, a different type of celebrity restaurateur is the somewhat silent investor, in it solely for the love of food or a certain chef or, most sincere of all, the expansion of their business portfolios with new revenue streams. That kind of love, though, comes with limits.


A catering opportunity in Hollywood led AbdessamadBenameur’s dishes to be served next to many famous celebrities, including a then-rising star, Ryan Gosling. A few empty plates later, Ryan inquired about the caterer insisting it was “food he would eat everyday for the rest of his life.” The two became instant friends and after some time talking, they agreed there was something missing in L.A-the kind of place that made you feel warm and satisfied; a place where the food is made with love.


Later, it was unable to find Tagine and the rep of Gosling told that Gosling is no more a part of this restaurant and did not take the follow-up questions. The reason of his exile also remained unknown.


When contacted for this story, the representatives from Mom’s Spaghetti were less than forthcoming. The restaurant, which is supposedly owned by Eminem and his longtime manager Paul Rosenberg, first opened as a pop-up and then as a permanent brick-and-mortar. However, when I reached out to Union Joints for clarification on Eminem’s role in the business, I was told by Catallo that “Mom’s [Spaghetti] doesn’t fall into that celebrity-owned concept category!”


It could come down to semantics, but there is a clear distinction between partnership and ownership in the case of Mom’s Spaghetti. Rosenberg and Eminem have demonstrated some ownership over Mom’s Spaghetti, with Rosenberg once stating, “We’ve had a lot of fun putting this project together with the folks at Union Joints, and the response from fans has been overwhelmingly positive.” The rapper, meanwhile, appeared at the grand opening, promoted it with TV spot, and had a Mom’s Spaghetti.


It’s no secret that celebrities often own restaurants. What’s less known is how these restaurants are often connected to the celebrities’ businesses in other ways. Obscuring such business dealings is probably by design, as it benefits both the restaurant groups and the celebrities’ entities: The famous person gets to expand their brand, and the restaurant benefits from the publicity that celebrity naturally draws in. If the restaurant is a success, the celebrity can take some credit. If it fails, they can, if they so choose, deny any involvement in the operations of the restaurant and go on.


As with any other type of restaurant, many celebrity-owned concepts fail. Jessica Biel’s Au Fudge, a child-friendly dining concept in West Hollywood, only lasted a year before closing. Drake’s luxury sports bar Pick 6ix, in his hometown of Toronto, had a similarly short life span, opening in February 2018 and closing in November 2019 with the landlord claiming the business owed $67,000 in back rent. (Pick 6ix blamed the building’s ongoing flooding.) Kid Rock’s made in Detroit announced to be closed until 2019.


Sadly, it’s not uncommon for celebrities to enter the restaurant business with nothing more than good press and money on their mind. In 2020, rapper Killer Mike announced his plans to save Atlanta’s Bankhead Seafood, a community institution that was closing after 50 years. Unfortunately, the restaurant only stayed open for a few months.


Celebrity restaurateurs stars are just like the rest of us: they have a variety of reasons for starting restaurants. Some are food lovers or community-builders, while others want to make money or bolster their egos. The rise of ghost kitchens has made it easier than ever for celebrities to have their name on a restaurant without having to be involved in the day-to-day operations.


Most business deals are secretive in order to keep the average person from understanding how money is moved around among the wealthy. We don’t need to see how much our favorite celebrities get paid for doing little to no work. It’s more interesting to know why consumers are drawn to celebrity-concept dining experiences. When you eat at a restaurant with a celebrity’s name attached, you feel like you’re connected to that person. A fan of Slim Shady can show their fandom by buying hundreds of dollars worth of merchandise from the Mom’s Spaghetti gift shop. For Jimmy Buffet fans, it’s the allure of the free-spirited lifestyle that leads them to Margaritaville’s seemingly endless shores.


Most people will never get the chance to have a meal with a celebrity, so they instead visit celebrity restaurants. These restaurants come and go, but being powerfully attractive towards the people with using the restaurant business strategy remains an eternally safe investment.