Fans of the Food Network know that celebrity chefs have the ability to put a restaurant on the map. Whether we’re talking about a 5-star steakhouse or a real greasy spoon, a shout-out from one of America’s most beloved chefs can go a long way. But while celebrity chefs and cooking show hosts may have a keen eye for an outstanding dish, they don’t always find success when opening their own restaurants.
Establishing a new restaurant comes pretty easy for celebrity chefs – most have the finances to get it done and the Instagram followers to create some buzz. However, the ability to stay open is where most of their restaurants fall short. Many celebrity-endorsed restaurants tend to lose much-needed attention and nurture from their founders once up and running. Below are five celebrity chef-owned restaurants that turned out to be extremely unpromising.
Celebrity Chef: Gordon Ramsay
Any fan of Gordon Ramsay knows that the celebrity chef runs a tight ship when it comes to his restaurants and employees. The TV personality gained a massive following through his cooking show Hell’s Kitchen and owns a handful of wildly successful restaurants. However, Fat Cow is proof that even the best fall down sometimes. The swanky American restaurant stayed in business for eighteen months in Los Angeles while it faced some less-than exemplary critiques. One LA Weekly review said that the restaurant illustrated “no trace of skill” that the chef is famous for. Yikes. Bad reviews aside, Ramsay found himself in hot water with his employees who filed a lawsuit against him claiming unpaid wages.
Celebrity Chef: Fabio Viviani
An array of cookbooks and Top Chef alumni status couldn’t seem to keep a restaurant afloat for Fabio Viviani. The celeb chef suffered from a cringe-worthy review of his North L.A. restaurant. The menu was described as “so conventional it reads like a tourist map.” Firenze Osteria remained open for five years – not bad – but faced some embarrassment after grand plans to close temporarily and reopen with a new owner were announced. The Italian spot closed permanently in 2014 with no sign of a future revival.
Celebrity Chef: Scott Conant
Beloved Chopped judge Scott Conant has seen a plethora of restaurant closings in his day, but Faustina takes the cake. New York City diners had high hopes for Conant’s Cooper Square Hotel-based Italian restaurant. With his famed chain of Scarpetta establishments, a single location Italian restaurant with a chic hotel vibe could have been a total home run. Unfortunately, Faustina didn’t even make it a year in the business. It closed in 2010 which Conant attributed to a new owner of the hotel who wanted to completely reinvent the restaurant. The celebrity chef didn’t lose hope though – he opened a few more restaurants between 2016 and 2019 across the country with similar menus. Predictably, they didn’t last very long either.
Carla Hall’s Southern Kitchen
Celebrity Chef: Carla Hall
Top Chef alum and TV personality Carla Hall’s fast-casual restaurant in Brooklyn only lasted a year even though it took almost three to launch. The celebrity chef gave a keynote address at restaurant convention MUFSO in 2017 and broke down six reasons as to why her establishment tanked. She credits her fundraising technique – a Kickstarter that acquired over $250,000 from fans – as her main mistake in the development process. Many social media users found Carla’s method of fundraising extremely distasteful due to the fact that she’s racked in plenty of dollars from her TV and cookbook career. That’s some solid proof that fame doesn’t necessarily guarantee success in the restaurant biz!
Celebrity Chef: Jamie Oliver
If you Google “worst celebrity chef restaurant flops” you’ll see that Jamie Oliver dominates the headlines. Oliver’s London-based steakhouse may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back in regards to his restaurant career – he was forced to close twelve other underperforming restaurants at the same time. Barbecoa Piccadilly was one of two Barbecoa steakhouses, the other located near St. Paul’s Cathedral in London and now run by a different owner. But the celebrity chef is still keeping it moving. He’s now hosting a vegetarian cooking show televised in England called Jamie’s Meat-Free Meals.