It's not every day that a musician opens a restaurant... it just seems that way 'cause guys like Questlove, who just launched Hybird in NYC, are constantly turning their backs on a life of wild parties and wild women for one of wild rice and wild refrigeration costs, due to leaks. But which rappers/rock-n-rollers should stick to making gold records, and which musician-owned restaurants are worth getting out your gold card? Check out our list of successes, failures, and song puns for the answers
Success: Like in most Jay-Z collaborations (Watch the Throne, the Brooklyn Nets), the other guys (like Bono and Mario Batali) do most of the work at solidly reviewed West Village gastropub The Spotted Pig, while Hov just shows up, looks at the menu, and is like "Can I Get a...".
Failure: There's no way Britney Spears' Cajun restaurant inside Manhattan's Dylan Hotel (named for her two favorite places: New York & Louisiana, or NYLA) closed in 2002 after only six months! Or that they racked up over $400,000 in debt, including a $25K bill for lobster. Or that Britney'd hook up with some chubby dude name Kevin. Or shave her head in public. There's just no way
Success: Not content turning thinly veiled lyrics about her infidelity into a massive hit, Justin Timberlake apparently wanted to show up his ex-girl Britney at the celebrity-owned restaurant thing, too, so he and some friends "spent a year" coming up with something totally out there: a... um, Memphis-style BBQ joint called Southern Hospitality in Hell's Kitchen that opened to not-terrible reviews in the Times. Also, if you enjoy it when people name-drop Walter Cronkite, please read their "About Us".
Failure: Opened in Pasadena during the Ben Affleck days, Jennifer Lopez's quasi-Puerto Rican restaurant Madre's actually lasted six years, despite the opposite-of-stellar reviews, and J.Lo herself saying she thought it would close long before then
Success: Writing a song called "I Love This Bar" wasn't enough for Toby Keith, so he opened an actual bar called I Love This Bar. Despite the bar being shaped like a guitar and the restaurant serving "Calf Fries", "Freedom Fries", and "Cowboy Caviar", TK has opened nearly a dozen locations, including one inside a Hard Rock casino, even though it's obviously just a little bit country.
Failure: It took just four months of "bounced checks and low staff retention" for Flavor Flav's Fried Chicken in Clinton, Iowa to close. Flav said the manager wasn't "running the business right", so he "Shut 'Em Down", but the manager's all "'Don't Believe The Hype', Flavor's a fraud". Bottom line, if you're looking for fried chicken, "You're Gonna Get Yours" somewhere else. And yes, that was three song references.
Success: Jenny Craig spokeswoman Queen Latifah decided to open a... um, Fatburger franchise in Miami because she's a "girl with girth" and needs her burgers, or as Jenny Craig calls them, "Wait, Latifah did WHAT?".
Failure: Rapper and record producer Jermaine Dupri's Atlanta restaurant Cafe Dupri was so... um, not-def that it struggled to stay open for three years, and eventually even to pay its employees, potentially because JD existentially feels like "Money Ain't a Thang". In a touching moment after its closure, Dupri's mom was quoted as saying, "Maybe if the employees had worked harder, Café Dupri would still be open.
Success: Oscar-nominated actor and Dead Man's Bones guitarist Ryan Gosling is an active investor in a small, accolade-heavy Beverly Hills restaurant called Tagine, but sparked controversy late last year when the Toronto Sun reported that the actor hadn't been there "in months". There was an immediate outpouring of grief/consternation on Yelp and in social media, presumably until Gosling was all, "Hey girl(s), the food is still really good.
Failure: In 2007, the signs went up outside Doug E. Fresh's Harlem-based soul food shop. Three years later (!) the doors finally opened at Doug E.'s Fresh Chicken & Waffles and people were "Lovin' Every Minute of It"... until it closed after only a year or so in business
Success: Writing a popular song, and then opening 38 restaurants in 17 states inspired by that song, didn't guarantee success for Jimmy Buffett and his Cheeseburger in Paradise chain. What did was taking aggressive legal action against similarly named mom & pop shops to force changes in their names, and, presumably, changes in attitudes toward Buffet.