Becoming a celebrity pub owner is the trendiest, 21st-century investment for British stars looking to stash their cash. Film, television, theater and sports celebs own pubs and bistros all over the country.
There was a time when being a celebrity who liked going out to eat eventually led to an investment in a restaurant. Michael Caine was famously a partner in the trendy 1970s eatery, Langans. In the 1990s Bruce Willis, Demi Moore, Sly Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Whoopi Goldberg were the original investors in Planet Hollywood (still around but having long ago shed its starry backers). And Robert De Niro is famous for putting his money where his mouth is with investments in Nobu and the Tribeca Grill.
For the Brits, It's a Pub
In the UK, the key accessory, for male celebs, at any rate, seems to be a pub. Well-known British personalities regularly snap up their local boozers. Of course, a British pub is more than just a place to drink beer; the best of them are either the centers of their communities or, increasingly, the place to go to eat out on pretty ambitious food in a more casual atmosphere than a fine restaurant. The invention of the gastropub may be why the likes of celebrity chefs Gordon Ramsay, Heston Blumenthal, and Tom Kerridge own pubs.
On the chance that you might spot a celebrity pulling a pint or bending an elbow at a local pub (it does happen), here's a list of who owns what around the UK.
- Frank Lampard, retired England and Chelsea footballer, has kept a marker in Chelsea with The Pig's Ear on Old Church Street, south of The King's Road near Paultons Square. He co-owns the pub with his father (also named Frank and also a retired footballer). The pub is surprisingly unflash, tucked away in a quiet corner with a traditional looking bar. It's known for its modern British gastropub food and a pretty good menu of desserts. Traditional Sunday roasts with all the trimmings come at a good price. Will you spot Frank or his footballer pals? Probably not as he now lives in New York - but word is, he still owns a Chelsea mansion so you never know.
- Neil Morrissey, actor and star of the popular 1990s British sitcom "Men Behaving Badly" is one of the owners of The Plume of Feathers in the Stoke-on-Trent village of Barlaston, near The World of Wedgwood. Stafford-born Morrissey is still acting, seen most recently in the USA in Striking Out. But he also brews beer and ale these days and, when visiting his home town, can occasionally be found in the kitchen of this pub. The rambling pub, beside a canal, has a traditional bar with a large, modern dining room. The same menu - nicely done pub classics, is served in both.
- Guy Ritchie, director of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels bought The Punch Bowl on Farm Street in Mayfair when he was better known as "Mr. Madonna". Dating from 1750, it is the second oldest pub in Mayfair (the oldest is The Coach and Horses, around the corner )and serves gastropub style British food. You might do a bit of celebrity spotting while you're there but leave your camera at home as photography is not allowed in this swanky boozer.
- Sir Michael Parkinson was one of the first chat show hosts in Britain. Now retired from chat shows, he remains a well-loved personality to British audiences. At the height of his popularity, appearing on "Parkinson" was the signal a British performer had arrived in the mainstream. He didn't always fare as well with American stars. When Steve Martin, in his UK debut, cut Parkinson's tie off, the host was famously not amused. And, in what he described as his "most difficult TV moment," Parky presided over an infamously excruciating interview with Meg Ryan. The success of his pub venture is less controversial. The Royal Oak in Maidenhead, Berkshire, opened in 2001 with Parkinson's chef son Nicholas at the helm. It has a Michelin star and 3 AA Rosettes as well as oak beams, a snug and an open fireplace.
- Sir Ian McKellen Sir Ian was well known to Shakespearean audiences before he became a household name as Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings. His pub, The Grapes, on Narrow Street in Limehouse, part of London's East End, was built in 1720 on a site that had been a pub from 1583. Charles Dickens apparently stood on a table and sang there as a young boy. Later he used it as the inspiration for The Six Jolly Fellowship Porters in Our Mutual Friend in 1864. Sir Ian's pub overlooking the Thames has a fish restaurant and serves traditional ales.