The restaurant business is stressful and it's hard to keep things going, even if you are a celebrity. There are many celebrities who have owned restaurants that ultimately failed. Remember Hulk Hogan's Pastamania!? It lasted at the Mall of America for about a year. Or Flav's Fried Chicken? Flavor Flav tried to bring the flavor with several different chicken ventures, all that failed after a short time. Eva Longoria's Las Vegas restaurant SHe and Nyla, Britney Spears' Cajun restaurant in midtown Manhattan had similar fates.
Au Fudge was a restaurant venture Biel launched in March 2016 with her business partners Estee Stanley, Joey Gonzalez, Kimberly Muller and Jonathan Rollo. It had a California-French menu and a playroom staffed with au pairs to watch kids as their parents enjoyed their dinner. It billed itself as a spot that was welcoming to kids and kids at heart.
“Thank you for so many years of support,” the Instagram announcement read over this weekend. “Tomorrow is our last day open at the restaurant, but more things to come from Au Fudge.”
Biel also commented on the news on her own Instagram. “While this is the end of an era, it’s also the beginning of a new chapter for @aufudge,” she wrote. “We are so very proud of the happy place we created for families and the community we were a part of.”
The restaurant offered both a celebrity tie-in and a unique concept in dining, but Biel had been open that financially they were not doing quite so well, going back to a January 2017 interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live. “The restaurant business is way harder than being a producer,” she said. “[We’re] definitely not making money. Nobody’s making money in the restaurant business, in my experience, at least not yet.”
Just a few months ago in March 2018, Biel and her partners also had legal issues with some former Au Fudge employees who filed a $1.5 million lawsuit accusing the restaurant of collecting gratuities from private events and not distributing them to their workers. The case was dismissed by a judge as frivolous.
Celebrity-owned restaurants may have the benefit of star appeal to pull in customers, but it's not always a slam dunk. Biel's husband Justin Timberlake launched a barbecue restaurant called Southern Hospitality in New York City in the early 2000s and it's still open, but JT hasn't been an investor in years.
For fans of Biel and the Au Fudge concept, all is not gone. Au Fudge Camp, a related children’s center, is still open and offers art, music and play for kids between 6 months and 10 years old. The restaurant itself is still available for private events.
As for Biel, she's just received an Emmy Awards nomination for best actress in a limited series for her role in USA's "The Sinner," so Au Fudge's closure doesn't seem to be getting her down too much.