By Emily Feimster
This just in! It pays to be, GASP, thin in Hollywood! That may come as a shock to, well, no one. Yep, celebrities have about as much use for the on set craft services as they do for having double coupon day at the local grocery store. How ironic is it then that owning restaurants is becoming a big trend with the famous folks? Regardless of whether they eat their own food, though, the venture has proven to be quite lucrative for some. Sorry Planet Hollywood. So grab a spoon as we dish out the latest scoop of Hollywood's restaurateurs!
When not canoodling with his wife, Demi, Ashton Kutcher is busy getting his food on as part owner of two Los Angeles eateries along with his former "That '70s Show" co-stars Wilmer Valderrama and Danny Masterson. The first is called Dolce, a swank Italian restaurant, which boasts candles in the windows and a large fire place behind the bar. The other is a trendy, overpriced sushi restaurant called Geisha House. It wasn't long before his pal Justin Timberlake followed suit by investing in another Asian inspired restaurant, Chi, which is located at the Hyatt Hotel.
This is all just small potatoes, though, compared to screen legend Robert De Niro, who has a 30 per cent stake in the Japanese eatery Nobu, which he co-founded with revered sushi chef Nobu Matsuhisa. Together the men have opened 16 Nobu restaurants around the world, including Florida, Tokyo and London. The company, which has been rumored to possibly be for sell in the near future, is said to be worth $250 million. Hey not too shabby! De Niro is certainly no stranger to the food biz. He's also part owner in the Tuscan restaurant Ago in West Hollywood, whose investors include director Ridley Scott and power producer Harvey Weinstein. Then there's his Mediterranean eatery Tribeca Grill in New York, which boasts such celebrity investors as Bill Murray, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Sean Penn, Ed Harris, and Christopher Walken. Whew!
Another Hollywood power player to pull up his sleeves and get involved in the kitchen expenditures is Kevin Costner, who owns the Orange County retreat, Clubhouse, which recreates the ambiance of a members-only country club. While married to his wife Cindy, he also built the French/Italian/Californian Twin Palms restaurant in Pasadena. The huge building can seat 450 people, both outdoors on the spacious patio or inside in the sophisticated/rustic French dining room. Above it all tower the restaurant's namesakes: two huge, 100-year-old palm trees. Following his divorce, his ex-wife now owns it. Ouch!
As if Jennifer Lopez didn't have enough on her plate with her movies, music, clothing line, and perfume, she opened the Cuban restaurant Madres in 2002. To no surprise, the opening night of her Pasadena restaurant brought out such stars as Ben Affleck, Nicole Kidman, Jay Leno, Christian Slater, Vivica Fox, Brooke Shields, Kobe Bryant, and Maria Shriver.
Speaking of Shriver, her hubby Arnold started the casual chic Schatzi on Main in Santa Monica. Although the governator spent a lot of money on the restaurant, he tried to keep this a simple, unpretentious, fun place to dine. After all, the waiters sport Hawaiian shirts, and when you visit the restroom, you can hear German language lessons being piped in over the loud speakers. Even his mom had a say in the menu. She tasted the apple pie, didn't like it, and made him put her apple strudel on the menu instead. More recently Arnold leased the eatery to a fellow Austrian, but continued to a host a cigar night every month.
Other famous folks to branch out into the food biz include Britney Spears, who opened up a Southern styled restaurant in New York called Nyla's, which is not too far from Michael Jordan's The Steakhouse and P. Diddy's restaurant chain Justin's. Michael Caine has Deya, an Indian restaurant in Central London. Singer Moby is the proud owner of a teahouse and vegetarian restaurant called Teany, which offers more than 90 types of tea. And Academy Award nominee Cathy Moriarty of "Raging Bull" fame owns Mulberry Street Pizzeria in Beverly Hills and Encino where the walls are covered with celebrity headshots and autographs.
In the end, these celebrities may not want to get fat themselves, but they certainly don't mind if the rest of us do. So, thanks!