multi-location food brands

Celebrities Who Help Turn Multi-Location Food Brands Into Stars

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Celebrities, including actors and athletes, have long invested in businesses that will help guarantee them a nest egg after their fame has waned. Many now even have their own investment firms. Some, like Mark Wahlberg and Michael Jordan, developed branded concepts, while others invested in multi-location brand franchises. Among the multi-location food brands with celebrity investors are Blaze Pizza, Five Guys, Whataburger, Jamba Juice, Popeyes, Wingstop, and Papa John’s.

The reasons for getting into the food business are varied. Some celebrities want the steady income stream this business venture provides, whereas others want to bring their favorite foods to the masses, pay tribute to important people in their lives, and/or leave a legacy.

The advantages of having celebrity backing for a multi-location food brand include:

  • An instant PR opportunity. A recognized name associated with a multi-location restaurant or other food/beverage establishment may draw curiosity and traffic. Appearances at grand openings and community events create buzz and Instagram moments, fueling word-of-mouth engagement.
  • SEO and social media “juice.” Immediate name recognition on a Google page can be a lure.
  • A perception of better quality. Although an actor may not know anything about cooking burgers or making the perfect French fries, consumers may assume that a celebrity wouldn’t invest in sub-par products.

Some celebrity investors in multi-location food brands choose to go big and bold, affiliating themselves with already-known names or creating unique new concepts.

Others prefer the boutique route, like actor-producer Tom Gallop (of “The Bourne Ultimatum” and “Will & Grace”) and his wife Tara Margolin. They invested in a Teuscher location in Beverly Hills,  the 15th store in the world to sell these premium Swiss-made chocolates. Kris Jenner, Brad Pitt, Quentin Tarantino, Clint Eastwood, Adam Sandler, Susan Sarandon,  Lisa Rinna and the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Chrissy Teigen, and Gayle King are among the brand’s fans and shoppers.

Connecting to other celebrities clearly enhances a brand’s cache and boosts sales.

Like Hollywood, all that glitters isn’t gold when celebrities enter the food business. Says Gallop, “Running a small business is actually hard work. Make sure you love what you do as a passion project, and success will follow.”

Some celebrities know exactly what they’re getting into when they launch or invest in multi-location brands. Jon Taffer has spent years berating bar/restaurant owners about what they’re doing wrong, bringing new technologies into their establishments. He now has an opportunity to put his money and automation ideas into his own business, opening three Taffer’s Tavern locations. 

The new chain will use technologies for the back-of-house, but Taffer, like Gallop, believes that human interaction with customers is critical to building relationships and loyalty.

But having a recognized name and movie/TV credentials behind a person doesn’t guarantee success. Many celebrity-owned restaurants have failed, including those founded by celebrity chefs. 

As in movies and television, having a big-name star without a solid storyline (in this case food quality and service) won’t save a flop.




Nancy A Shenker, senior editor with Street Fight, is a former big brand (Citibank, Mastercard, Reed Exhibitions) marketing strategist and leader. She has been featured in, the New York Times and Forbes.