The Lowdown: celebrity-backed restaurants

By Georgia Bronte contact

- Last updated on GMT

The Lowdown: celebrity-backed restaurants
Rick Astley (of Never Gonna Give You Up fame) is opening a bar in London with a Danish microbrewer.

Is this a really elaborate Rickroll​?
No, but it does sound like one. In actual fact, Astley met Danish brewer Mikkel Borg Bjergso, who runs popular Danish microbrewery Mikkeler, when he got in touch to try and launch a collaborative brew with the singer. 

And then what happened?
They stayed in touch, and created the ‘Astley’s Northern Hop Lager’ which went on sale last year. Astley credits Bjergso with allowing him to “fall back in love with beer” and says he is excited to be involved with the company’s first bar in the UK.

Where is it going to open?
It’s a Danish microbrewery backed by Rick Astley…where do you think?

Shoreditch?
Obviously. At a secret and undisclosed location, no less.

Celebrities, eh? So trendy.
If diners were after a slightly less hipsterfied celebrity-backed spot in east London that actually has an address, they could head a little further from the city to Limehouse, where Ian McKellen owns an east-end boozer and gastropub.

It’s not hobbit themed or anything, is it?
No, but fans of Lord of the Rings will be happy to learn that Gandalf’s staff from the films is in the pub- and it is over 500 years old, so it does look a little Shire-esque.

Any chance of seeing Gandalf himself?
Rumour has it that he is a regular at the pub quiz- but if he doesn’t make an appearance, fans can always make do with some of the McKellen-themed menu items, such as the “Sir Ian Meaty Shepherds Pie”.

Are any other A-listers trying their hand at becoming restaurateurs?
Actually, yes. Actor, former rapper, model, producer and reality TV star Mark ‘Marky Mark’ Wahlberg is launching a UK outpost of Wahlbergers, the burger chain he runs with his brothers Paul and Donnie.

He runs a burger chain?
Yes, and it’s quite successful. It has 22 restaurants across the US, and will launch in Covent Garden next month.

With a name like that, I suppose it was just a matter of time.
Talking of naming a restaurant after your own name, UK grime artist duo Krept & Konan launched a restaurant in Croydon earlier this year called ‘Crepes and Cones’. Krept tweeted in 2014 telling fans that “one day” the concept would become a reality, and four years later, it actually materialised.

You really need to be on the salary of a Hollywood star or a rapper to open a London restaurant, don’t you?
More or less… or you need to have a rich family, like Lucy and Tiffany Watson, who launched vegan restaurant Tell Your Friends earlier this year. Fortunately for the sisters, their father Clive Watson owns City Pub Company, so there was a fair bit of cash around to get the site off the ground.

How convenient…
Celebrity-backed restaurants don’t always work out, though, no matter how much money is thrown into them. Fashion Café, the glamorous Piccadilly Circus restaurant opened by supermodels Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell and Elle McPherson in the 1990s ended up in the hands of an administrator. It went bust because the founders spent too much money on refurbishing its opulent décor, without providing enough cash to pay for the day-to-day running expenses, according to bankruptcy specialist John Alexander.

I would say something about looks not being everything... but Piccadilly is a notorious deathbed for restaurants. Perhaps Manchester might have been a safer bet?
Surprisingly, Manchester is a hotbed for celebrity-backed restaurants. It seems like half of the cast of Hollyoaks have restaurants or cafes in the area, as well as a host of footballers, who probably didn’t know what else to do with all their cash.

Which are the highlights?
Kieron Richardson, better known as Ste from Hollyoaks, opened Strip in Manchester’s Walkden area. The health-focused café encourages customers to eat “lean and clean”, offering protein shakes and healthy takes on junk food items such as burgers and cheesy chips.

Who else?
Rio Ferdinand. He owns the glamorous Italian restaurant Rosso, which serves pasta, pizza and steak. Now that he’s retired from football he isn’t as regular a visitor as he used to be, but diners regularly Instagram snaps of other celebrities at the restaurant, which is a bit of a VIP spot in the city.

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