Showbiz celebrities have given us such catastrophic restaurant ventures as Minnie Pearl’s Fried Chicken, Mickey Rooney’s Weenie World (the hot dogs were flat and round), and Johnny Carson’s Here’s Johnny’s. Yet they still can’t leave the business alone.
In case your subscription to People and Us! have expired, here’s a list of recent crossovers into restaurants by rock stars. In some instances, there are things worth noting about their ventures. But in others…well, that’s why they call it the blues.
Gene Simmons, Rock & Brews
The snake-tongued bassist for Kiss is a principal of this new Hard Rock Café-like concept, which debuts next month near Los Angeles Airport. The restaurant expertise is coming from Michael Zislis, though Simmons has (theoretically) had exposure to the industry through his band’s Kiss Coffeehouse. The design will supposedly capture the feel of a concert arena’s back stage, and the menu will carry over the theme with sections like Opening Acts and Headliner sandwiches.
Outside help: Zislis, concert promoter Dave Furano.
Worth stealing: The fleet of flat-screen TVs, now required of anyplace with a beer tap, will feature concert footage and rock clips, like MTV on, um, steroids, not that other banned substance. It might be a welcome change from 24-hour sports.
What should get the hook: The dumb menu names. Desserts called Encores, and apps slugged as Opening Acts? Ugh. That’s so eight-track.
Flavor Flav, House of Flavor
You can’t help wishing the rapper had named the fried-chicken restaurant Worlds of Flavor, just for the entertainment value of seeing the Culinary Institute of America square off with the Public Enemy singer in court (the CIA uses that name for a conference). Dr. Tim Ryan in his three-piece, Flav in his signature oversized clock…but enough what-iffing. The key thing here is that the Flav Master is coming back to the business after his first chicken venture, Flav’s Fried Chicken, died in four months. The new entrant, set to open in Las Vegas, sounds more upscale, and will be inspired décor-wise by—what else?—Flav and his musical career.
Flav has played it close to the clock about the new concept’s menu. But he did divulge this tidbit in an interview with Bloomberg BusinessWeek: “FFC is fried chicken and House of Flavor is, you know, a house of flavor.”
Outside help: Book publisher Farrah Gray.
Worth stealing: Flav’s double-flavor breading approach. He revealed that he’ll spice the meat before rolling it in seasoned bread crumbs, yielding what he calls a double dose of flavor.
Hook-worthy: Anything that shows up on the menu with the name, Flavor of Love, the title of his reality TV show.
Beach Boys Good Vibration Restaurant
Few details have been leaked about the concept, which is slated to open in Vegas, like Flav’s new one. The Boys’ hotspot will be housed in Bally’s, and will have a theme built around surfing, girls and cars. Whoa. Who’d have thought such a thing, given the involvement of the Beach Boys.
You have to hope that Brian Wilson, the genius behind the band, will really be involved. It’d definitely add some surrealism. When I saw him perform solo a few years back, his band (the Wondermints) rolled out a huge cake for his birthday. He not only wasn’t aware of his birthday, but that the cake, after it appeared, was for him.
Outside help: Caesars Entertainment, Monsoon Group
Worth stealing: How bankable nostalgia remains. It’s been roughly 50 years since “Surfin’ USA” hit the airwaves. Also, GrubStreet.com's suggestion for the concept's name: Wild Honey.
Hook-worthy: Mike Love, the band’s lead singer. He can be like fingernails on a blackboard when he opens his mouth to do more than sing.