You Won't Believe These 10 Celebrities Own Chain Restaurants

You Won’t Believe These 10 Celebrities Own Chain Restaurants
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You Won't Believe These 10 Celebrities Own Chain Restaurants

When they aren’t busy promoting themselves or the latest product to bear their name or likeness, sometimes celebrities and sports stars decide to open a restaurant or buy some locations of a well-known chain. Here, we’ll take a look at 10 unexpected celebrities that own franchises of well-known chains.

Image Credit: carrie nelson/, flickr/ -AX-

1. Rick Ross, Wingstop

Rapper Rick Ross might have been well-known for his feud with 50 Cent until recently, but the big news out of Miami (and quite a few other locations) is his acquisition of multiple franchises of Wingstop. Ross didn’t stop in Miami, opening two additional locations in a "restaurant buying spree” in Memphis." "Miami is my hometown, and I want to share my favorite wings with one of my favorite cities," Ross explained in a press statement.

Image Credit: Randy Miramontez/, flickr/ rusteford

2. Magic Johnson, TGI Fridays

Magic Johnson has gone from the Lakers to the boardroom, building a business empire that includes a handful of franchises. Using his "Magicizing" process, Johnson partnered with TGI Fridays to open a franchise in the previously untapped Ladera, Calif., area. This venture was designed to bring jobs and more casual dining options to the area. Consider yourself "Magicized," Ladera! No news on whether Johnson receives free bacon Cheddar burgers, but that would be a fair price for "Magicizing."

Image Credit: Joe Seer/, flickr/ Per Olof Forsberg

3. Magic Johnson, Starbucks

Yes, we’ve already mentioned Magic Johnson, but let’s be honest, the dude deserves two entries for the sheer number of business ventures he operates. Johnson has a knack for working with existing brands and tailoring them to the areas he targets. For example, at a Starbucks location he partnered with in Los Angeles, he noticed that locals enjoyed playing chess in the area. Working with the company, he placed picnic tables outside the location and invited the community to visit and play. You’re welcome, Starbucks.

Image Credit: s. bukley/ Starbucks

4. Venus Williams, Jamba Juice

It’s a match made in heaven (no pun intended) for Venus Williams to endorse a super-yummy yet (semi-)healthy chain like Jamba Juice, as the tennis champion is well-known for her commitment to physical education and nutrition in the community. Also, Jamba Juice is awesome, so there’s that. Williams currently owns two Jamba Juice franchises in the Washington, D.C. area, with reported plans to add five more over the next five years. Keep the delicious frozen smoothie treats coming, Venus!

Image Credit: lev radin/, flickr/Ronald Wong

5. NeNe Leakes, Famous Famiglia Pizzeria

NeNe Leakes of Real Housewives of Atlanta fame is a Southern superstar, ya’ll. So she opened a... pizza joint? In California? We don’t even know. But true story: she opened a franchise of Famous Famiglia Pizzeria in the Sacramento airport several years ago. Lucky for visitors, it’s probably operated by people who know some things about pizza making and Italian food. Sorry, NeNe.

Image Credit: Helga Esteb/, Flickr/ InSapphoWeTrust

6. Ted Turner, Ted’s Montana Grill

Did you know that Ted Turner pretty much saved the American Bison from extinction? He did. Maybe it wasn’t totally altruistic, though, because now he’s making them into burgers and steaks as the "Ted" behind Ted’s Montana Grill, with locations nationwide. Turner embarked on the venture with George McKerrow Jr., who founded LongHorn Steakhouse Inc., and sells the bison raised on his Montana ranch to the chain. Ted’s Montana Grill also features beef, so no worries if you aren’t a bison fan.

Image Credit: Helga Esteb/, Flickr/Old Shoe Woman

7. Jamal Mashburn, Outback Steakhouse and Papa John’s

Jamal Mashburn, former Dallas Mavericks superstar, reportedly made more than $75 million during his career. Monster Mash, as he is affectionately known by fans, used his huge earnings to purchase more than 70 restaurants at last count. This staggering number includes 38 Outback Steakhouse franchises and 32 Papa John’s. Small wonder that this former champion is viewed as one of the best success stories of former-athletes-turned-businessmen after retiring from professional sports.

Image Credit: flickr/ Governor Beshear, Outback Steakhouse

8. Peyton Manning, Papa John’s

The quarterback signed a deal to purchase 21 Papa John's franchises in the Denver area.The jock stereotype cannot hold up in the face of business savvy like this.

Image Credit: carrie nelson/, flickr/ -AX-

9. Shaquille O’Neal, Auntie Anne’s

Apparently, Shaq loves pretzels. In fact, he loves them so much that his O'Neal Franchise Group teamed up with V&J Foods in 2007 to purchase eight franchised locations of Auntie Anne’s in Buffalo, N.Y., and a half-dozen more in Michigan with plans for expansion. It looks like he currently owns six locations around Buffalo, and nine in Michigan. According to V&J, Shaq’s involvement is minimal in terms of advertising but the door is always open if he’s interested. Pretty sure the world is ready for an advertising campaign involving Shaq, a shopping mall, and a cinnamon sugar pretzel drowning in butter. Someone needs to make this happen now.

Image Credit: Helga Esteb/, Flickr/ venus201 day

10. Drew Brees, Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwiches

Jimmy John's really should be available everywhere. A company that offers "Free Smells" in their window has a good sense of humor and an excellent marketing strategy in our book. There's nothing better than pumping sandwich smells outside to lure customers in! Drew Brees, the Super Bowl MVP Saints quarterback, is a big enough fan of the chain to buy a franchise. "I missed Jimmy John’s so much from my time in the Midwest, and I thought that it was a great fit for what we were doing in New Orleans," Brees told Entrepreneur. "The culinary arts is a big thing down here; there are great restaurants and great chefs; and so much of the culture is surrounded by food and dining. It’s kind of neat to be part of that somewhat by owning my Jimmy John’s franchises." Brees isn’t the only sports star to be a big fan of Jimmy John’s; New York Yankees pitcher David Robertson told us that he eats it every time he’s on the road.

Image Credit: Action Sports Photography/, flickr/ Snap-Man


At this point in the celebrity machine, you can't go two feet without running into some sort of a celebrity endorsement deal. Everyone who's even remotely famous seems to have a clothing line, a perfume, a reality show, or something weird like a car endorsement (remember when J Lo endorsed Fiat?). But when they aren't busy promoting themselves or the latest product to bear their name or likeness, sometimes celebrities and sports stars decide to open a restaurant or buy some locations of a well-known chain. We've already rounded up the best restaurants that are owned by celebrities, and here we'll take a look at some unexpected celebrities that own franchises of well-known chains.

Click here to see 10 Celebrities That Own Chain Restaurants

There are plenty of examples of celebrity-owned restaurants that have failed. See: Nyla by Britney Spears, Madre's by Jennifer Lopez, and eight other notorious examples that can be found here. Classic cases of opening a demanding business without the required experience, many celebrity-run restaurants are best remembered as the butt of jokes. But instead of going all-in and creating an entirely new restaurant concept, many celebrities who want to dip their toes into the restaurant game actually resort to purchasing franchises of already well-known brands, which come pre-packaged with two of the most important keys to success already built in: a widely known brand name and a pre-determined menu. Everyone from actors to singers to pro-athletes is getting in on the newest way to make a buck in the food game.

Some of you might be familiar with Rick Ross and his Wingstop obsession. The lyric "She thinking Phillipe's, I'm thinking Wing Stop" even made its way into his jam "MC Hammer." So it shouldn't come as any surprise that he indulged and purchased some franchises of the wing chain. And before reconciling with her now-husband, reality star NeNe Leakes of the Real Housewives of Atlanta was romantically linked to John Kolaj, owner of Famous Famiglia Pizzeria. Insisting Kolaj was just her "business partner," Leakes snapped up a franchise of the pizza chain in California. So if it wasn't true then... it is now. And these two are just the tip of the iceberg.

Check out the slideshow above to discover 10 unexpected celebrity chain restaurant owners!

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