For every successful celeb-backed business, like Puff Daddy’s vodka line, Dan Aykroyd’s vodka line, or Bill Murray’s vodka line, there are many non-vodka-based enterprises famous people have tried their hands at. But besides the awesome power of lending their names to products, many celebs don’t have the first clue what it takes to run a successful business. They don’t all attain the greatness of, say, Dennis Rodman’s vodka line. So let’s delve into the greatest slapdickery and out-of-touch entrepreneurial fever dreams of the rich and clueless.
Hulk Hogan’s Pastamania! Lived In A Single Mall Food Court
In 1995 (when else?), after numerous disses from the WWF brass, Hulk Hogan announced that he would set out and find a calling beyond wrestling. Based his own extremely refined palate, Hogan decided to conquer the world of haute cuisine next. The world held its collective breath to see what his vision for badass dining would entail. Would he open a restaurant called Hulk’s Suplexin’ Seafood? A Heyyyy Hermano Tex-Mex truck? Or would it simply be a humble pizza store where you could only buy his signature pepper-jabroni pizza? Sadly, the reality was much, much more disappointing.
At least it made up in promotional interviews what it lacked in everything else.
Located in Minnesota’s world-famous Mall of America, Hogan held food-court at Hulk Hogan’s Pastamania! Children and emotionally stunted adults from around the country could flock to have a taste of professionally curated carb loads at family friendly prices.
Hogan’s greatest marketing ideas came in the form of tiny flexing Hulks to leg-drop into boiling water. Meant to be sold in actual supermarkets, Hulk U’s and Hulkios were to become wrestling’s Alphabetti Spaghetti, without all the tricky reading.
However, even flagrant promotion during live wrestling events could not save this bloated turd of an idea. The place didn’t even last a year, and never expanded beyond its one “flagship” location. Apparently, you need a better business plan than “this big man has flexing bicep pasta.”
Leonard Nimoy’s Pet Pad — A Shop For Exotic Animals
Upon leaving this mortal coil a few years back, Leonard Nimoy was fondly remembered as Spock, a cold, logical creature who had a hard time understanding human emotions like love, hate, and drunk crying. Nimoy, on the other hand, was as gentle and warm a person you could ever meet. And he wasn’t just a fan of man, but of all creatures — specifically, crocodiles and brightly colored birds.
Now, it’s not uncommon for a celebrity to back animal causes, but Nimoy’s short-lived side business in California in the late ’60s was a little different from the modern Sarah McLaughlin weepfests. He didn’t merely want to help animals; he wanted animals to make California more interesting. So Nimoy opened a pet store and went about trying to fill it with all the exotic animals he always wished to see, offering everyday pet enthusiasts a chance to mingle with the likes of monkeys, chipmunks, otters, and even a crocodile or two.
Shockingly, his passion project only stayed open for a year in 1969, long enough to guarantee the weirdest conglomeration of homeless animals that the state of California had ever seen until the great pet store fire of Pee-wee’s Big Adventure.
Dive! Was Steven Spielberg’s Insufferable Family Restaurant
Something that isn’t talked about enough is the Great Stupid Restaurant Craze of the mid ’90s. With prosperity at an all-time high but taste and style at an all-time low, many a not-so-savvy rich person thought they could easily corner the diner market with mediocre food and a wacky idea. And the greatest/dumbest of them all was visionary film director Steven Spielberg, who took one look at the bottom of the barrel, shook his head in amused pity, and shouted “DIVE!”
Dive! was the artificially conceived child of Spielberg and DreamWorks co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg, a known nemesis of fun. The restaurant infested Los Angeles in 1994, with a bold promise to serve submarine sandwiches inside a giant yellow boner of a mock submarine. And as Spielberg was hot off his Indiana Schindler And The Jurassic Purple streak, people were of course lining up around the block. Little did those patrons know that eating at Dive! meant having their senses assaulted by the claustrophobic horror that is a real submarine experience.
You see, when Spielberg has an idea, he doesn’t do it half-assed. People who went to dine at Dive! wouldn’t just get an overpriced sandwich in a weird setting; they were also treated to an interactive submarine experience every half hour. The whole place went dark and giant video screens recreated deep-sea diving, while alarms and flashing lights blared incessantly. Every. Single. Half. Hour.
So by the time they finally got the check, around the fourth time they were subjected to the catering equivalent of the bends, most people’s review of the restaurant was “Submarines suck!” Critics maligned the place as “like eating in a pinball machine,” and when Dive! finally went under after five years, Spielberg notably did not attend, because love is pain. And submarines belong underwater, not above ground. Dummies.
Tom Berenger’s Twin-Themed Restaurant
There are few rockin’ dudes alive in the galaxy as manly as sausage-lipped sex bobcat Tom Berenger, made famous by his roles in Sniper, Platoon, and Major League. That’s three terrible restaurant themes right there, and since he was rich and famous in the mid ’90s, he was going to need one. So why he then chose to make a fine dining experience that was completely based around twins, we’ll never know.
In 1994, after giving Arnold and Danny plenty of time to miss their shot, Berenger opened Twins Restaurant with two identical twin sisters, Debbie and Lisa Ganz. The restaurant was created for twins, and was staffed by 37 sets of identical twins working at the same time (to prevent any sort of twin-based paycheck fraud). In fact, the only non-twins in the business were the general manager and chef, of which you can only have one, and Berenger himself — who, as a celebrity, counts as two regular people anyway.
The twins at Twins Restaurant also conveniently wore the same uniforms and tended to the same areas of the restaurant, which probably required some thorough detective work to figure out who to yell at when the ketchups weren’t filled up after the lunch rush. Even their slogan was “You can only make a first impression once. We can make it twice,” ignoring the fact that it was the same impression both times. The cuisine consisted of twin burgers and Twin Peaks nachos, and the place had a standing two-for-one drinks offer, so it was a great place to go if you wanted to see quadruple by the end of the night.
The restaurant only managed to stay open for about five years, during which the owners claimed they had “over 100,000 sets of multiples” — not uncommon for people who’ve had the pleasure to work with Tom Berenger.
Kevin Costner Ran An Old-Timey Casino
We’ve told you before how, after making Dances With Wolves, Kevin Costner betrayed his new Native American bros by trying to build a gaudy mega-casino on their land. But his hard-on for casinos had started much earlier. In 1989, as he was starting to become obsessed with the Wild West, Costner decided he wanted to revive a bit of American nostalgia and open an old-school casino — without the hookers, gunfights, or any of the real fun.
Costner set up his Midnight Star Casino and Restaurant in an old restored building in Deadwood (of HBO fame). It was fashioned as a grand saloon, with period details like old-timey glasses and black-and-white photos, but also with Costner-specific memorabilia like his Elvis suit from 3000 Miles To Graceland and Whitney Houston’s costume from The Bodyguard. It was as if he needed a place to hang up all of his stuff that got rejected from Planet Hollywood.
However, like Costner, the Midnight Star has grown increasingly irrelevant in the past decade. In 2017, it hosted its final evening of old folks playing nickel slots, shutting its doors for good. The actor himself seems to be selling off all of his holdings in the Deadwood area, presumably to deal with the looming ocean rise.
Jessica Biel Opened A Chuck E. Cheese’s For Rich People
Let’s say you’re a famous person who also has a kid. You want them to be like any other kid, which includes taking them out in public to eat shitty food and play shitty games. But you can’t go to Chuck E. Cheese’s, where you not only risk the latest strain of plebian hepatitis, but also being out-celebed by a band of animatronic animals. Luckily, Jessica Biel has you covered.
Famous from a show seen on hospital televisions around the world, Biel decided to break from acting to take care of her newborn in 2015, which caused her to muse philosophically about the unique challenge of being a parent while also being slightly famous. Lamenting the fact that her rich friends didn’t have their version of a kids arcade, she decided to use her newly freed-up schedule to start a West Hollywood restaurant called “Au Fudge.”
But Au Fudge also focuses on the poor, downtrodden parents. With an “award winning cocktail program” and on-site babysitters, the restaurant tries to offer young parents what they crave most: a chance to get drunk and pretend their children don’t exist. Au Fudge also plans to expand its offerings to include yoga, cooking, and gardening classes for children. Combine that kind of boho parent swank and a menu that charges $6 for milk, and you’ve got yourself quite the niche dining experience.
Yeah, they’re not making any money.
Looking to impress your friends with your own cooking concoctions but don’t feel like owning a restaurant? Have you tried brewing your own beer?
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