Atlanta may not have the same mega-kilowatt celebrity culture of L.A. or New York, but it is a city where well-known actors and musicians have an odd tendency to open restaurants. In many keeps, the stars keep their involvement with the establishment partly under wraps.
The Indigo Girls’ Emily Saliers maintained a low profile as an early investor in the Flying Biscuit Cafe (1655 McLendon Ave., 404/687-8888, www.flyingbiscuit.com ) in Candler Park, and is co-owner of much-loved Watershed (406 W. Ponce de Leon Ave., 404/378-4900, www.watershedrestaurant.com ) in Decatur.
Ashton Kutcher and pals from That ’70s Show are famously linked to Geisha House (1380 Atlantic Dr., 404/872-3903, www.dolcegroup.com/geisha ), Dolce (261 19th St., 404/872-3902, www.dolcegroup.com ), and Ten Pin Alley (261 19th St., 404/872-3364, www.dolcegroup.com/tenpinalley ), but don’t expect to spot them partying in Atlantic Station anytime soon.
Other celebrities have taken an altogether different approach to the restaurant biz. Soul legend Gladys Knight put her star power front and center with Gladys Knight and Ron Winans Chicken & Waffles (529 Peachtree St., 404/874-9393), a café co-founded by late gospel singer Ron Winans. The downtown destination serves up the soul food staple of fried chicken and buttery waffles (as the name would imply) and other Southern favorites.
Hip-hop mogul Sean Combs put an unusual spin on soul food for his upscale Buckhead restaurant Justin’s (2200 Peachtree Rd., 404/ 603-5353, www.justinsrestaurant.com ), opting for health-conscious and Caribbean-inspired cuisine. Combs, who named the restaurant after his son, has said that the menu is an homage to the food his late grandmother loved.
Another chart-topping rapper, Atlanta native Ludacris, drew fast fanfare when he opened Straits (793 Juniper St., 404/877-1283, www.straitsrestaurants.com ), a high-concept bistro that blends Singaporean cuisine with Georgian influences. The glitzy Midtown restaurant reportedly set its owners back $2.7 million, arriving in 2008 in the former Spice location on Juniper Street.