Back in 2007, Justin Timberlake opened Southern Hospitality, a restaurant on New York’s Upper East Side that had recipes based on his grandmother’s (“I kept saying if it’s not [Granny's] recipe, I don’t want it,” he told People back then) and decorations that reminded him of his hometown of Memphis (“We wanted it to look just like a bar back home”). He even tied Southern Hospitality into a Super Bowl ad during which he endured a ball shot. All signs that he had a stake in the place, right? Well, apparently we’ve all been fooled, if an “exclusive statement” from Timberlake’s publicist to People is to be believed:
Approximately three years ago, Justin and his close friends, Eytan Sugarman and Trace Ayala, discussed the idea of bringing Memphis-style BBQ and ribs to the New York City marketplace,” according to the statement.
“The three friends spent a year creating the Southern Hospitality concept and were actively involved in all elements of design, menu offerings, and musical format.”
But that’s where the connection ends. Sugarman now operates and primarily owns the restaurant himself.
“While Justin and Trace continue their friendship with Eytan, and continue to provide fresh ideas and promotion for Southern Hospitality, they are not investors, owners or partners, nor do they have any knowledge of or involvement in the operations of the restaurant,” the statement says.
I wonder what this means for the restaurant’s expansion plans, then? (Or, ahem, contraction plans? Times are tough for restaurants these days…)