In the business world, being famous is usually a blessing since a celebrity is a brand name himself and has the ability to pull fans in the form of paying customers. Look at actor Will Ferrell’s tremendously successful website, FunnyorDie.com or rapper Sean ‘P Diddy’ Combs’ record label, clothing line, and film Production Company or Robert De Niro’s restaurants Locanda Verde, Nobu, and Tribeca Grill.
But not all can do what these select few could. There are quite a few famous names who simply could not keep up their business stint. The reasons are countless; lack of experience and knowledge, bad concepts or simply no business acumen. Here are some famous flops in the restaurant game.
1. Fashion Café, New York
In 1995, highly successful ramp models Claudia Schiffer, Christy Turlington, Elle MacPherson, Naomi Campbell, the list goes on, roped in creator Tommaso Buti to open a restaurant in New York’s Rockefeller Plaza. The interiors were obviously fashion inspired, there were the models’ dresses, shoes and accessories displayed in cases and, of course, television screens showed reruns of fashion shows. The cuisine was essentially fast food and the dishes were names after the models.
Unfortunately, diners couldn’t bring themselves to associate chicken wings with, say, Claudia or burgers with Naomi. This dabbling lasted little longer their movie careers and eventually in 1998, due to bankruptcy, they closed shop.
2. Madres, Pasadena, California
Jennifer Lopez has been able sell her music, her videos, her fashion, her perfumes, but seemed to have little luck with selling food. To honor her Puerto Rican roots, JLo conceptualized Madres, a restaurant offering Latin cuisine, where she hoped to share her childhood favorite dishes with her fans. The menu had ceviche, empanadas, ropa vieja, and arroz con pollo. The opening was grand with stars at all tables but the reviews showed lukewarm response from food critics. The restaurant closed in 2008, just six years old.
3. Nyla, New York City
Britney Spears opened her restaurant Nyla, named after her two favorite places, New York and Louisiana, in June 2002. The name, its location in Manhattan’s Dylan Hotel, and the unique Cajun cuisine based menu made the venture appear promising. But it didn’t work.
The menu was changed to Italian soon after it opened but the restaurant received bad reviews. Facing health code violation actions and debts amounting to $400,000, Nyla closed its doors just six months after they first opened.
4. Dive! LA, Las Vegas, Barcelona
Dive! was a venture by Steven Spielberg and producer Jeffrey Katzenberg. The submarine themed restaurant was a little neon-yellow submersible shaped building on the outside. There were pressure gauges, torpedo-shaped seats, metal catwalks, throttles, control panels on the inside. For ambient sounds, “dives” were simulated every 30 minutes when sirens would go off and red lights would flash and echoes of somebody shouting “Dive!” reverberated around the dining room.
As if all this wasn’t enough, the menu had “submarine” sandwiches and “sub-stantial” salads followed with “sub-lime” desserts and lovely submarine merchandise for sale. Wow! Anyway, Dive! 1 opened in LA in 1994, and Dive! 2 in Vegas opened in 1995 followed by the third in Barcelona. The restaurants sank without trace in 5 years.