Athletes And Restaurants: Recipe For Success Or Not?

Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat guard.
Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat guard.

When Dwyane Wade's name became associated with a new restaurant concept called D. Wade Sports Grills, one of my favorite blogs, SportsByBrookswrote this:

"We seriously doubt #3 will be dragged away from Prime 112 and other assorted half-price affairs to wander 30 miles north to Aventura Mall, where one of the former Kenny Rogers Roasters franchises will be located."

Well, my friend Brooks Melchior was right.

The owners of D. Wade's Sports Grills have already closed two restaurants and are suing Wade for breach of contractsaying that the Miami Heat guard did not do his part in making required marketing and promotional appearances. Wade's attorney denied that was the case.

While Don Shula's is alive and well, just look at South Florida alone and you'll see the struggle athletes have with restaurants. Gone is Jeff Conine's Clubhouse Grille and Howard Schnellenberger's name is off the Original Steakhouse & Sports Theatres. Even Dan Marino, whose name is gold in Florida, saw his three Fine Food & Spirits close.

According to a survey cited by Forbes, 60 percent of restaurants fail in three years. I have a feeling restaurants using an athlete's name fail even more than that. The bottom line, like anything, is that the name alone won't make a restaurant's success. And often these athletes are agreeing to put their name on something without controlling the menu or location. Shula's is still around because it's good food. And, although it's tough in Manhattan, I like Amos Zereoue's chances better than some others because he's opened a French/African restaurant that could actually stand out from the crowd.

Here's a SHORT list of other restaurants that have closed in recent history. Thanks goes to for a partial list.

Bob Huggins' Hugg's Inn (Cincinnati, OH)

Brett Hull's Restaurant (St. Louis, MO)

Clyde Drexler's BBQ (Houston, TX)

Don Mattingly's Restaurant (Evansville, IN)

George Brett's (Kansas City, MO)

Larry Bird's Boston Connection (Terre Haute, IN)

Michael Jordan's Restaurant (Chicago, IL)

Michael Jordan's 23 Restaurant (Chapel Hill, NC)

Mickey Lolitch's Donut Shop (Detroit, MI)

Pete Rose's Ballpark Cafe (Boca Raton, FL)

Vin Baker's Saybrook Fish House (Old Saybrook, CT)

Wilt Chamberlain's (Boca Raton, FL)

Questions? Comments?