Steven Spielberg: Dive!
Getty Images / Jason Kirk / Staff / Hulton Archive

Celebrity Restaurants That Completely Flopped

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Steven Spielberg: Dive!
Getty Images / Jason Kirk / Staff / Hulton Archive

Stars with Failed Restaurants

In between filming movies or TV shows, spending time in the studio, or posing for photoshoots, celebrities often search for new ways to fill their time. From rappers and singers to models and actors, there are tons of stars who have made their foray into the restaurant industry — and some of them met with great success. But where there is success, there’s also failure. Here are some celebrity-owned restaurants that completely flopped.


Related: Celebrity Businesses That Completely Flopped

NYLA
Getty Images / James Devaney / Contributor / Wire Image

Britney Spears: Nyla

Years Open: 2002


Back in 2002, when she was still one-half of the “It couple” with Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears opened a restaurant in New York City called Nyla — a name she came up with after combining the state abbreviations for New York and Louisiana, where she grew up. Initially, the restaurant served up Cajun food on the menu, but after being met with negative reviews, management decided to switch to Italian cuisine. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to make the eatery a success. Between management problems, debt, and health-code violations, Nyla didn’t make it out of its opening year before it closed for good.


Related: Star Power on Tap: 31 Restaurants and Bars Backed by Celebrities

Elle Macpherson, Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington and Claudia Schiffer: Fashion Café
Getty Images / Images Press / Contributor / Archive Photos

Elle Macpherson, Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington and Claudia Schiffer: Fashion Café

Years Open: 1995-1998


The Fashion Café was a theme restaurant in Rockefeller Center — and if it isn’t obvious by the name, that theme was fashion. It was actually funded by Francesco Buti and Tommaso Buti, but it was initially fronted by supermodels Naomi Campbell, Elle Macpherson, Christy Turlington, and Claudia Shiffer. Complete with the unexpected pairing of leopard print seats and diner-style food, the restaurant’s interior was riddled with glass cases displaying fashion memorabilia and a gift shop for some extra revenue. At its peak, the restaurant had five international locations in New York, London, South Africa, Mexico, and Spain. Alas, the business wasn’t as luxurious as it appeared  — it closed in 1998 and both Francesco and Tommaso Buti were arrested in Italy for fraud, bankruptcy, and money laundering.


Related: Strange and Expensive Celeb Purchases

Steven Spielberg: Dive!
Getty Images / Jason Kirk / Staff / Hulton Archive

Steven Spielberg: Dive!

Years Open: 1994-early 2000s


Steven Spielberg is one of the most successful movie directors of all-time, with iconic films like “E.T.,” “Saving Private Ryan,” and the “Indiana Jones” franchise under his belt. Unfortunately, his film success didn’t quite carry over into the restaurant business. “Jaws” wasn’t Spielberg’s only venture into the sea — the director opened Dive! — a restaurant that had a yellow submarine sticking out of the building. Inside, the restaurant featured torpedo-shaped barstools and had portholes on the walls. Every 45 minutes, flashing lights would go off and the portholes would fill with water to make guests feel like they were being submerged. The original restaurant opened in 1994 in Los Angeles with a second location opening in 1995 in Las Vegas. Unfortunately, thanks to underwhelming food and low merchandise sales, the Los Angeles branch closed in 1998 and the Vegas location followed suit by the early 2000s. 

Jennifer Lopez: Madre’s
Wassim B./Yelp

Jennifer Lopez: Madre’s

Years Open: 2002-2008

In 2002, superstar Jennifer Lopez opened a Latin restaurant in Pasadena, California called Madre’s, inspired by her mother’s home cooking. The menu featured both Cuban and Puerto Rican food, including ropa vieja, empanadas, and fried plantains. While the restaurant started out as a huge success, it wasn’t long before its downward spiral began. Customers and critics alike found the restaurant’s most redeeming quality to be its shabby chic decor, but the overall consensus of the menu was that the food was bland and subpar. Its lackluster reputation ultimately led to J.Lo. closing the doors for good just six years after opening.

Ludacris: Straits
Kelly H./Yelp

Ludacris: Straits

Years Open: 2008-2012


When Ludacris opened a restaurant in Atlanta — his hometown — fans expected him to pay homage to his roots with old-fashioned, Southern home cooking. Instead, Straits was an Asian fusion restaurant with quite the pricey menu. As such, the venue was hit hard by low guest turnout, encouraging the rapper to jump ship and follow a different direction, opening a restaurant in the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport called Chicken N Beer, which has brought him much more success. 

SHe by Morton's
Rudy H./Yelp

Eva Longoria: SHe by Morton's

Years Open: 2012-2014


In 2012, Eva Longoria partnered with parent-company Landry’s to open a female-focused steakhouse called SHe by Morton’s. The swanky restaurant exuded opulence — it was inside the Crystals shops at the Aria Casino in Las Vegas and it had a catwalk and chandeliers. What’s more, its tagline was, “Dining. Fashion. Nightlife.” But it wasn’t an overpriced menu or low public interest that sank the steakhouse — it was the health department. During an inspection, 32 violations were discovered, mostly related to food temperatures. At first, the restaurant attempted to rectify the situation by improving the kitchen temps, but the damage was already done and SHe by Morton’s permanently closed two years after it opened.


hulk hogan's pasta mania
hulk hogan's pasta mania by Ben Lansky (CC BY)

Hulk Hogan: Pastamania

Years Open: 1995


We can still hear, “Hulkamania is running wild, Brother” and picture Hulk Hogan flexing his muscles as the arena crowd roared. Throughout the ‘90s, Hogan had a die-hard fan base known as “Hulkamaniacs.” The wrestler decided to capitalize on his fame and open Pastamania — a gimmicky restaurant that served — you guessed it — pasta. Hogan’s fans weren’t quite dedicated enough to keep his restaurant afloat, though — Pastamania closed down just a few months after its grand opening.

Flav’s Fried Chicken
Yik'in Chan K./Yelp

Flavor Flav: Flav’s Fried Chicken

Years Open: 2011


Clock enthusiast and reality TV star — oops, we mean rapper — Flavor Flav partnered with Nick Cimino to open Flav’s Fried Chicken in January 2011. The venture was sparked when Cimono’s brother Peter — who runs pizza joint Mama Cimino’s in Las Vegas — ate the rapper’s homemade fried chicken. The Cimino brothers wanted to turn Flav’s into the next KFC with the secret recipe in tow. Alas, the fried chicken joint didn’t live to see a year, closing down by April of the same year it opened. The reason behind the failure depends on who you ask. Flav blames Cimino, citing poor management of the restaurant on his part that incidentally tarnished Flavor Flav’s reputation. Cimino, however, says that Flav’s absenteeism and lack of knowledge of the restaurant industry is what ultimately ended the restaurant. 

Ashton Kutcher and Wilmer Valderrama: Dolce Enoteca e Ristorante
Getty Images / Carlo Allegri / Staff / Getty Images Entertainment

Ashton Kutcher and Wilmer Valderrama: Dolce Enoteca e Ristorante

Years Open: 2003-2011


“That 70’s Show” fans got a kick out of Ashton Kutcher and Wilmer Valderrama opening a restaurant together — there’s something so charming about on-screen friendships carrying over into real life. Dolce Enoteca e Ristorante first opened in Los Angeles under the umbrella of the Dolce Group in 2003, with sister restaurants opening in Atlanta and Huntsville, Alabama. The upscale restaurant had private indoor and outdoor dining areas with an inviting atmosphere. Dolce Enoteca e Ristorante leaned into a classic Hollywood vibe and stuck to the classics when it came to the menu with offerings like risotto, linguine, and gnocchi. Alas, the public grew tired of the restaurant, eventually leading to its permanent closure.

Scott Disick: RYU
Katherine A./Yelp

Scott Disick: RYU

Years Open: 2012


Known for his association with the Kardashian family, Scott Disick decided to snatch up any opportunity to make more of a name for himself — and in 2012, that  led him to open RYU, a Japanese restaurant in New York City. It might have been hyped up before its opening and gotten plenty of attention when it first launched, but the buzz surrounding Disick’s eatery didn’t last. From disappointing, overpriced food to the overall dining experience, visitors weren’t impressed. Disick sold off all of his shares of the restaurant before it completely tanked — not a bad idea since RYU permanently closed less than 200 days after it opened.

Café Dupri
Café Dupri by Mark H. Anbinder (CC BY-NC-ND)

Jermaine Dupri: Café Dupri

Years Open: 2005-2008


Unlike the other two rappers on this list, Jermaine Dupri’s foray into the restaurant industry wasn’t focused around unhealthy food. In 2005, Dupri realized his dream of bringing a healthier restaurant to Atlanta when he opened Café Dupri. Highlights of the menu included Tomatoes Dupri (fried green tomatoes with blackened crawfish, asiago cheese and hollandaise sauce), spinach salad, and crab crusted tilapia. Even though the Atlanta area might have needed a restaurant like Café Dupri, it just couldn’t go the distance. The rapper blamed the struggling economy on his business failure.

Jessica Biel: Au Fudge
©TripAdvisor

Jessica Biel: Au Fudge

Years Open: 2016-2018


Actress and mother Jessica Biel opened a kid-friendly (yet still posh) restaurant in 2016 called Au Fudge. The restaurant even had a space separate from the dining area for children to play and the menu featured easy going comfort food with desserts at the forefront. But aside from luring families with children, Au Fudge wasn’t a go-to restaurant. Before officially closing in 2018, Biel and her investors were sued by former employees in 2017 for allegedly cheating them out of breaks and wage theft related to tips on private parties. The $400,000 lawsuit was ultimately dropped by all nine plaintiffs with no explanation.


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