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'N Sync to 98 Degrees: Former boy band singers jump into the food industry

Former boy band heartthrobs like Justin Timberlake, Jordan Knight, Lance Bass and Donnie Wahlberg are finding sweet success in the food business.
/ Source: TODAY

Singers of boy bands like New Kids on the Block, 'N Sync and 98 Degrees all enjoyed plenty of success at a young age. But fame and fortune don't always last forever.

And while many of these former boy band members have gone on to have successful singing solo careers (hello, Super Bowl Halftime Show!), some of these world-famous pop sensations are finding sweet success off the stage — in the restaurant business.

Whether these 1990s heartthrobs are opening restaurants in their hometowns or bringing small town cooking to a big city, these boys-to-men are serving up their unique love of food to new audiences. Though their tastes may be different, all of these food-focused entrepreneurs have gotten into the industry with a common goal: to get closer to their roots.

Justin Timberlake, Southern Hospitality

Getty Images/Southern Hospitality

The headliner of this year's Super Bowl Halftime Show launched his signature restaurant, Southern Hospitality, to bring the flavors from his childhood spent in Memphis, Tennessee to the Big Apple. Since Timberlake has clearly found plenty of success as a solo artist during his post-'N Sync years (he released the multi-platinum "FutureSex/LoveSounds" a year before opening the restaurant), his foray into the restaurant industry might be surprising to some — but this year, the restaurant will celebrate 10 years in business.

Southern Hospitality serves up Memphis-style barbecue (known for its flavorful dry rubs and lots of pork) in Midtown Manhattan, with delectable Southern dishes like baby back ribs, black pepper bark brisket, and a Tennessee-style fried chicken. To celebrate the Super Bowl, the Southern restaurant will be offering shot specials throughout the game and $4 plates of fried pickles, pork ribs, Frito pie and more!

Timberlake’s wife, actress Jessica Biel, was bitten by the food bug, too, and opened Au Fudge, a kid-friendly restaurant in Los Angeles, in 2016.

Jordan Knight, Novara

Anna Ivanova

Knight’s Novara is just a stone’s throw from where this New Kid on the Block was born and raised. Housed in an old cinema just fifteen minutes south of Boston in Milton, Massachusetts, Novara allows Knight to be closer to home — literally — because he now lives in the neighborhood with his wife and two children.

“Being involved with Novara allows me to be a part of the local community, as the Boston-area has always been where I call home,” Knight told TODAY Food. Knight and the other Novara co-owners regularly host charity events and auctions at the restaurant, too. In November, NKOTB super fans donated $25,000 at a fundraiser auction to have lunch with Knight, a price tag that fed 3,000 families in Massachusetts for a week.

Lance Bass, The global restaurateur

Denny Ilic

Lance Bass has made a name for himself off the stage in the international restaurant scene, with eateries spanning from California to Greece. “I’m all about food,” Bass told TODAY. “Growing up in Mississippi, everything revolved around food. As far back as I can remember, I always loved eating with friends.”

Bass has invested in several restaurant projects over the years, including Estrella in Los Angeles, West Hollywood’s Rocco’s Tavern, and Santana’s in Mykonos, Greece. He’s even created recipes for the online delivery and meal kit program, Chef’d that feature twists on classic comfort foods like ranch-spiced pork chops and chocolate chip pound cake. “I always said as a kid, ‘I want to grow up and open a restaurant and I want my mom to be a chef.’”

That childhood dream may soon become a reality since Bass is currently working on a cookbook with his mother.

Nick and Drew Lachey, 98 Degrees

Earl Gibson III / Getty Images

The Lachey Brothers — Nick and Drew — have always been big supporters of their hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio so opening their very own sports bar wasn't too much of a stretch.

The singers opened Lachey’s Bar in 2015 and chose the former warehouse space on the corner of 12th and Walnut Streets because it brought them closer to their youth: the brothers attended the nearby School for the Creative and Performing Arts ... we'd say that school served them very well! Today, Lachey’s Bar offers pub food, plenty of beer on tap, cocktails, and a resident DJ spinning on weekends — a true ode to the brothers’ musical side.

Joey Fatone, Fat One's Hot Dogs and Italian Ice

Eric Dean

Joey Fatone opened the first brick-and-mortar location of Fat One’s Hot Dogs & Italian Ice, in Orlando, Florida in 2016. He served up jumbo dogs with toppings that ranged from classic (sauerkraut, mustard and onion) to the trendy (guacamole, Sriracha sauce and even fries). However, the former 'N Syncer decided to shut down the original restaurant in late 2017 because he wanted to take his new show on the road and bring his food right to the fans.

Fatone rebooted his business as a food truck in January and started slinging dogs again this week. Want to find the Fat One? The food truck’s location schedule will be posted weekly on social media. If you've got a hankering for Fat One's original menu, don't worry, Fatone didn't change a thing, and he even added a new item: the Chicago dog.

“During the summer days, when I was living in New York, I would go to Nathan's in Coney Island to get a hot dog. Then I would walk down the pier to get an Italian ice. And I always wanted to have something like that,” Fatone told TODAY Food over email.

“[The food truck] really represents a combination of who I am, where I’m from, and where I’ve been.”

Donnie, Mark and Paul Wahlberg, Wahlburgers


The Wahlberg brothers launched the very first Wahlburgers burger restaurant in their hometown of Boston in 2014. Today, they have 20 restaurants across the country, with big plans to expand overseas, and a hit reality show about the family business, “Wahlburgers,” on A&E.

"We didn’t really know where this was journey was headed, when [we] set out to create a burger restaurant in our family’s name," Donnie Wahlberg told TODAY via email. "Now, with 20 restaurants around the country, and eight seasons of the show later, we are absolutely blown away by the response of our guests and our fans."

In January, the brothers even launched a meatless-burger option (it's made with Impossible Burger's meaty, plant protein base) with smoked cheddar, lettuce, caramelized onions, chili spiced tomatoes and Paul’s signature, house-made Wahlsauce. “The best part is that we get to do it together, as a family,” continued Donnie. “It's really brought us closer in so many ways and, in hindsight, it's probably the real reason we all decided to do this.”