Justin Timberlake, Ludacris, Jimmy Buffett: Best Musician's Restaurants
Arcade Fire's first couple Win Butler and Régine Chassagne announced this week that they would become the next musical act to enter the dining business with Agrikol, a Haitian restaurant in the band's hometown of Montreal. The space will also offer Haitian music and visual arts as part of the experience. The couple obviously has a culinary interest in the Caribbean nation, as Butler's special blend from La Colombe Coffee also featured beans from the country. Let's hope that their business doesn't bite the dust like Britney Spears and Flava Flav's attempts, and instead is a success, much like these restaurants run by Justin Timberlake, Jimmy Buffett and more.
Gladys Knight has to be at the top of this list for us because when we were introduced to Gladys Knight & Ron Winans' Chicken & Waffles, we had no idea that the namesake was also the "Empress of Soul" and a four-time Grammy winner. Eventually, as we began to expand our interest in music, we realized what Ms. Knight was best known for, but because of how your correspondent first came to know her name, she'll always have a place in my heart as the "Queen of Chicken 'n' Waffles." Indeed, the trio of restaurants that she ownFlavas—along with fellow gospel performer Ron Winans-—s a "must stop" for those traveling through Atlanta, and stands at the pinnacle of the classic Southern dinner pairing.
While we're on the topic of Southern-style food, let's check in on the dining project of another performer born in the region: Justin's, a restaurant from Justin Timberlake. Wait...actually, that's not right. Justin's is named after the son and founder, Diddy. Regardless of who owns it, the restaurant pairs tastes from both the South and the Caribbean. Although the New York City location close during 2007, the Atlanta version is still open for business. It's not up to Gladys Knight's (and, to be honest, few are) but it might be worth a visit if you're in town for a few days.
UPDATE: Your correspondent isn't up to date...it seems the Atlanta location of Justin's has closed as well at this point. Bummer, and sorry for the misinformation.
OK, now something seriously from Justin Timberlake. Everyone knows that the pop star knows a thing or two about being a gentleman, what with the whole "Suit & Tie" thing," but being born in Memphis also qualifies him for "Southern gentleman" status. You might want to leave the suit and tie at home if you're dining at the restaurant however...Timberlake went straightforward with Southern Hospitality, featuring Tennessee-style ribs and BBQ. One thing that's slightly misleading about the title: There's yet to be a Southern location. You'll need to head to New York City or Denver in order to check out his wares.
It might seem that Southern-style dining is dominating the celebrity-owned restaurant market but we promise this is the last one. Ludacris is a major supporter of his hometown Atlanta, so you won't be surprised to know that his restaurant, Straits, serves...Asian food? Indeed, Chris Bridges got more experimental than you might expect from a guy who released a platinum album titled Chicken-n-Beer, opening an Asian-fusion restaurant in the capital of Georgia. That said, Luda also owns a more casual comfort food restaurant in the Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport titled—you guessed it—Chicken N Beer.
Cheeseburger in Paradise / Margaritaville
Ludacris wasn't the first musician to consider naming a restaurant after work that ties food into its title. One of the first, and certainly the most prominent now, was Jimmy Buffett. First, the tropical pop star took a cue from his hit "Margaritaville," opening a chain of restaurants where diners could waste away again without needing to look around for their lost shaker of salt. Then, after finding success in that chain, he opened a chain of burger joints named after his hallucinogenic hit "Cheeseburger in Paradise." Both have become smash successes. There are now eight Cheeseburger in Paradise locations and 23 Margaritavilles. Just another way that an apparent beach bum is building his net worth to $400 million.
I Love This Bar and Grill
One issue in some music genres is image: Have any of the rappers who spit about hustling actually been around real gangbangers, and do country musicians really have red necks or do they prefer to hide out in their air conditioned Beverly Hills homes? Toby Keith may not be an outlaw per se but he is 100 percent honest when he discusses his love of beer and America. One of the performers biggest hits was "I Love This Bar," a song that barkeeps and owners will never get tired of hearing from the jukebox. He probably realized that he could double up on attendance and merchandise sales if he expanded the experience to include food as well, and thus he opened a pair of I Love This Bar & Grill's in Oklahoma during 2005. Now he's got more than a dozen locations as well.
You may hate Sammy Hagar for the direction his "I Can't Drive 55" attitude took Van Halen, but the vocalist himself realizes that he had something marketable on his hands, even after he left the group. The performer therefore talked his Van Halen bandmates into investing in a bar in the Cabo San Lucas area, which he gave the ridiculous name Cabo Wabo. They eventually bailed, but he was no fool: He knew that Cabo Wabo existed in a place where people go to behave irresponsibly, therefore he opened two more locations in Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe. The chain, already inspired by a Van Halen song, then inspired the Cabo Wabo tequila brand, which Hagar would sell 80 percent of for $80 million.