Houston rapper Bun B turned his passion for making smash burgers at home into Trill Burgers. Former NFL quarterback Drew Brees is a Jimmy John's franchise owner and invests in Walk-On's Sports Bistreaux and Smalls Sliders. Comedians Pete Davidson and Jason Sudeikis, musician Mark Ronson and actors Nicholas Braun and Justin Theroux are all investors in New York's Pebble Bar, located steps away from the 30 Rockefeller Plaza studio where Saturday Night Live films. And after years of eating salads and drinks from Health Nut, Kris Jenner signed on as an investor to help the chain expand beyond Southern California.

These are among the 361 celebrity restaurants that have opened in the US and Canada in the past five years, according to JLL. But it wasn't until 2021 when such openings really took off, doubling from 2020 to 2021 at a time where overall US restaurant openings only increased by 13%. Some of this can be attributed to the overall trajectory the restaurant industry is on: There were 1,832 new US planned restaurants openings announced in the first quarter of 2024 alone. But the spurt in celebrity restaurant growth is also due to the star power that accompanies these investments.

JLL notes that with a US retail vacancy rate at 4.1%,  the competition for restaurant space is high and availability is low. Landlords receive many inquires for each vacant space and one way to increase the likelihood of a returned call is to have a famous name behind the food.

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Natalie Dolce

Natalie Dolce, editor-in-chief of GlobeSt.com and GlobeSt. Real Estate Forum, is responsible for working with editorial staff, freelancers and senior management to help plan the overarching vision that encompasses GlobeSt.com, including short-term and long-term goals for the website, how content integrates through the company’s other product lines and the overall quality of content. Previously she served as national executive editor and editor of the West Coast region for GlobeSt.com and Real Estate Forum, and was responsible for coverage of news and information pertaining to that vital real estate region. Prior to moving out to the Southern California office, she was Northeast bureau chief, covering New York City for GlobeSt.com. Her background includes a stint at InStyle Magazine, and as managing editor with New York Press, an alternative weekly New York City paper. In her career, she has also covered a variety of beats for M magazine, Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel, FashionLedge.com, and Co-Ed magazine. Dolce has also freelanced for a number of publications, including MSNBC.com and Museums New York magazine.