From Francis Ford Coppola to Korean celebrity chef Baek Jong-won, you’d be surprised to learn how many celebrities own restaurants in the Bay Area. Here’s a rundown of restaurants and bars owned or backed by Hollywood elite, pro athletes, musicians, and celebrity chefs. Which ones have you tried?
1. SPiN – Susan Sarandon
Actress Susan Sarandon is known for films like Thelma and Louise, Dead Man Walking, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. She also co-founded the table tennis club chain SPiN in New York in 2009, which later expanded to 8 additional locations in the US and Canada. San Francisco’s SPiN has over a dozen ping pong tables where guests can play lively games while enjoying delicious craft cocktails and hearty bar food. Keep an eye on their website for hourly table tennis specials and more.
Location: 690 Folsom St #100, San Francisco
2. Cafe Zoetrope – Francis Ford Coppola
Film director Francis Ford Coppola is famous for cult classics like The Godfather and Apocalypse Now, but only locals may know that he also owns Cafe Zoetrope at the base of SF’s historic Sentinel Building. Coppola bought the building in 1972 as a headquarters for his production company American Zoetrope, later opening the cafe in 1999. Many of Cafe Zoetrope’s menu items are from Coppola’s own recipes, and they serve wine from the nearby Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Geyserville.
Location: 916 Kearny St, San Francisco
3. International Smoke – Ayesha Curry and Michael Mina
Restaurateur and best-selling cookbook author Ayesha Curry and celebrity chef Michael Mina helm this massively popular SoMa restaurant. Indulge in juicy wood-fired steak, seafood, ribs, and vegetarian dishes inspired by the owners’ global culinary knowledge and international grilling techniques.
Location: 301 Mission St, San Francisco
4. The French Laundry – Thomas Keller
Celebrity chef Thomas Keller helms The French Laundry in Yountville, a massively famous fine dining establishment that Anthony Bourdain once called “the best restaurant in the world.” Keller established the restaurant in 1994 as an essential destination for French cuisine in wine country. It resides in a quaint stone cottage, which once housed a French steam laundry in the 1920s, hence the restaurant’s name.
Location: 6640 Washington St, Yountville
5. Atelier Crenn – Dominique Crenn
Culinary legend Dominique Crenn heads this three-Michelin-star French restaurant in San Francisco. Crenn was the first female chef in the U.S. to receive two Michelin stars in 2012 and then beat her own record for a third star in 2018. The menu and restaurant reflect Crenn’s personal journey over the years, with ties to both French and Californian cuisine. Crenn is a celebrity in the culinary world, but she also crossed into the film industry as the consultant behind all of the menu items in the 2022 film The Menu.
Location: 3127 Fillmore St, San Francisco
6. Loma Brewing – Kevin Youkilis
MLB star Kevin Youkilis played primarily for the Boston Red Sox before eventually retiring in 2014. In 2016 Youkilis and his brother Scott purchased the former Los Gatos Brewing Company, renaming it Loma Brewing. Within a year won the title of California Commercial Beer Brewery of the Year at the 2017 California State Fair, and Loma Brewing continues to be a staple for West Coast beer aficionados. Some of the most popular beers at Loma are the Appeasement IPA, Jew-jitsu hazy IPA and Youk’s Kolsch.
Location: 130 N Santa Cruz Ave, Los Gatos
7. Paik’s Noodle – Baek Jong-won
Korean celebrity chef Baek Jong-won is famous for hosting Korean food television show Top 3 Chef King, among others. He’s also the person behind multiple Bay Area locations of Paik’s Noodle, a casual chain serving Korean-Chinese noodle soups and stir-fries. Jong-won also recently opened a new Oakland location for his popular restaurant Hanshin Pocha which specializes in Korean street food.
- Paik’s Noodle / San Francisco H Mart: 3995 Alemany Blvd, San Francisco
- Paik’s Noodle / 홍콩반점 산호세: 1520 Kiely Blvd, Santa Clara
- Paik’s Noodle at Dublin / Hong Kong Banjum: 7214 San Ramon Rd, Dublin
- Hanshin Pocha: 4869 Telegraph Ave, Oakland
Honorable mention: Rudy’s Can’t Fail Cafe – previously owned by Mike Dirnt
For over 2 decades, legendary Green Day bassist Mike Dirnt co-owned this retro diner in Emeryville named after The Clash’s song “Rudie Can’t Fail.” In 2022 the cafe shuttered abruptly but was later reopened thanks to hard work from longtime employees and original co-founder Douglas Smith. Although Dirnt no longer owns the cafe, it’s worth a visit for some delicious comfort food in the East Bay.
Green Day members Billie Joe Armstrong, Tré Cool, and Mike Dirnt also co-own Oakland Coffee Works, which doesn’t have a brick-and-mortar location.
Location: 4081 Hollis St, Emeryville