For some celebrities, getting the best table in the restaurant isn't enough. They'd rather own it.
Rapper and reality star Flavor Flav is the latest star to jump into the restaurant business. He's opening Flavor Flav's House of Flavor in Las Vegas, a soul food takeout restaurant, featuring fried chicken, fried shrimp and his signature red velvet waffle. And you can bet when he cuts the ribbon on March 15, he'll shout out his famous, "Yeah, Boy."
One half of the rap duo Public Enemy, Flav has become a reality icon -- 7.5 million viewers tuned in for VH1's season finale of "Flavor of Love 2." He currently appears with Elton John in a Pepsi commercial that debuted during the Super Bowl.
But few know that Flav actually has serious chops in the kitchen. He worked in his family soul food restaurant and Flav even went to culinary school in 1978. Back then, cooking was his fall-back job in case he didn't make it in the music business. "You could always find good jobs cooking," he told ABCNews.com. "Plus I loved to cook."
Even after Public Enemy took off with such hits as "Don't Believe the Hype" and "Fight the Power," Flav spent time in the kitchen experimenting. "Boy did I come up with some winners," he said. "My speciality is fried chicken. I have my own special seasonings to make it taste the way it does. Everybody is going crazy over my fried chicken."
His new eatery, started with partner Farrah Gray, a successful businessman and book publisher, will feature recipes and secret spice rub mixtures he developed over the years. But for now, you'll have to get the food to go. The place is too small for a dining room, but Flav hopes to expand later.
House of Flavor is not Flav's first restaurant venture. In 2011, he opened Flav's Fried Chicken in little Clinton, Iowa, hoping to take FFC as far as KFC. He ended up closing it, he said, because of mismanagement. But he's planning to open another FFC in Detroit within the month. And he'll be more on hand at the Vegas eatery.
He's got his work cut out for him, as well as competition from other celebrities. Click through to see seven other stars who've found success as restaurant owners.
|Robert De Niro|
In 1994, Oscar-winning actor Robert De Niro partnered with Chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa to open Nobu in New York City's Tribeca neighborhood. The modern Japanese restaurant now has over 25 locations around the world. De Niro followed Nobu with the Mediterranean-inspired Tribeca Grill and an Italian restaurant, Locanda Verde -- all of which helped revitalize Tribeca and add to the actor's bottom line.
Rocker Sammy Hagar opened his first Cabo Wabo Cantina in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico in 1990. Named after his signature tequila brand, the restaurant is also a popular night spot. Hagar has since expanded his cantinas to Nevada resort Harvey's Lake Tahoe and the Las Vegas strip.
Oscar-winning actress Sandra Bullock opened Bess, a bistro in Austin, Texas, in 2006. Soon after, she gutted the building across the street to open Walton's, a combination deli, coffee shop, florist and event spot. Her sister Gesine Bullock-Prado, a professional pastry chef and author of the memoir "Master Baker," is the genius behind the dessert menu.
In 2008, Eva Longoria opened the trendy Latin tapas spot Beso in Hollywood. The name is Spanish for "kiss." Celeb chef Todd English runs the kitchen, but the "Desperate Housewives" star contributed her guacamole and tortilla soup recipes to the menu. In 2009, Longoria opened another Beso in Las Vegas.
Ashton Kutcher may play dumb on television, but he's a whiz in the restaurant business. Demi Moore's ex is behind a handful of restaurants, including Dolce Enoteca e Ristorante, Geisha House and Ketchup -- all part of the Dolce Restaurants and Entertainment Group -- in Los Angeles, Atlanta and Washington, D.C.
Soul superstar Gladys Knight joined forces with gospel great Ron Winans to create Gladys Knight and Ron Winans' Chicken and Waffles. Besides the signature dish, called Midnight Train, the restaurant serves fish and grits, smoked chicken and other recipes straight from Knight's kitchen. Since the opening in 1997, the Atlanta-based eatery has expanded to four locations.
Atlanta-bred rapper Ludacris started a chain of restaurants called Straits, featuring family-style, Singapore-inspired dining. Expanding from his original Atlanta location, he now has five, three in the Bay Area area and one in Houston. Recently, the rapper, whose real name is Christopher Bridges, announced via Twitter that he is opening his second restaurant -- in Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson airport. The name, Chicken & Beer, comes from his 2003 hit album.