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JLL: Celebrity restaurant openings show no signs of slowing down

Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Sign by night; Shutterstock ID 1392791816
Some of the most famous celebrity chefs have restaurants in Las Vegas.

In the crowded restaurant sector, having a backer with a famous face can help cut through the clutter.

That’s according to JLL’s Celebrity Restaurants Report, which said that 70 celebrity-backed restaurants are expected to open this year — the second highest number of openings since 2021, which saw 81 openings. 

In the last five years, a total of 361 celebrity restaurants have been opened by famous folks, including celebrity chefs, actors and musicians. Thirty-seven percent of the restaurant openings in the JLL study were made by celebrity chefs and with 32% were backed by actors.

With 1,832 new U.S. planned restaurant openings announced in the first quarter of 2024 alone, the restaurant industry is extremely hot — and competitive, which makes attracting investors, appealing to landlords and connecting with customers a big challenge. 

“Celebrities have the advantage of name recognition and legions of loyal fans,” the report noted. “This may be one reason why celebrity restaurant openings took a big leap in 2021 and have not significantly subsided.”

Signing a buzzy celebrity-backed project can be a boon to a property developer, according to the report. It drives public interest and generates an outsized share of earned media and social engagement, which in turn drives foot traffic. A 2023 study by Amex Global travel (“American Express Travel’s 2023 Global Travel Trends Report”) found that 40% of respondents have been inspired by a celebrity influencer to visit a specific destination.

Each city attracts different kinds of celebrity restaurant concepts, Nashville, for example, hosts a number of country-music star concepts, many featuring live music, in the city’s iconic Lower Broadway district. New venues slated to open there this year include This Bar and Tennessee Kitchena six-story bar, restaurant and live music concept from country star Morgan Wallen, and JBJ's Nashville, from rocker Jon Bon Jovi.

In Las Vegas, hotels use celebrity chef restaurants to stand out. British chef (and television personality) Gordon Ramsay has five restaurants in hotels along the Strip, with two more locations opening this summer (at Planet Hollywood and the Flamingo). Food Network star Guy Fieri currently has four restaurants in Vegas.

The report noted that celebrities can own all or part of a business that bears their name. Or they may have signed a licensing or management agreement. Most restaurant patrons would not be able to distinguish between the different structures — and they probably wouldn’t care.

“Whether a star has been paid a fee or is an owner, in the diner’s eyes it’s still the star’s restaurant,”  JLL said.

Wahlburgers, from executive chef Paul Wahlberg and his actor brothers Donnie and Mark, opened the most locations in the period of the JLL study. Many of the new locations were inside Hy-Vee supermarkets.

The report listed the most active celebrity restauranteurs by category. These include:

Celebrity Chef: Gordon Ramsay, Guy Fieri, Jose Andres;

Actor: Mark Wahlberg, Robert De Niro and Norman Reedus 

Athlete: Shaquille O'Neal, Carlos Dunlap, LeBron James;

Comedian: Kevin Hart, George Lopez

Influencer: Lisa Vanderpump, Tue Nguyen

Musician: Drake, Ne-Yo, Jimmy Buffet


The JLL research team assembled a database of celebrity restaurants with openings from 2019 through 2024, including those with planned openings in 2024. The JLL database includes both owned and licensed celebrity concepts.

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