The 10 best athlete-owned restaurants

For a variety of reasons – an effort to diversify investments, to create a post-career business opportunity, ego or challenge – many gridiron heroes and ballpark messiahs have splashed their names on an establishment that also serves as a shrine to their athletic glory. For most, the formula is pretty standard: generic pub food, lots of TVs, and even more memorabilia covering the walls. The only thing usually missing is the athlete. Don’t expect to spot Brett Favre greeting guests at his steakhouse in Green Bay.

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Slideshow: The 10 best athlete-owned restaurants

Like a celebrity chef, sports stars have the name-brand recognition to pull in patrons, even if the athletes are dead. Deceased New York Yankees great Mickey Mantle, Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi, and Chicago Cubs announcer Harry Caray have some of the country’s most popular sports-themed restaurants.

But the reality is that while a ballplayer’s endorsement might bring you in the door, many of these restaurants don’t have winning dishes. So we’ve compiled a top 10 list that delivers, scores, is a slam dunk, home run, hole in one … however you want to call it.

On the West Coast, skateboarder Tony Hawk has invested in a restaurant whose kitchen is run by a James Beard Foundation “California Chef of the Year.” Meanwhile, NFL quarterback Vince Young not only has a steakhouse in Austin, Texas, but also supplies his own brand of smoked meat to area grocery stores.

Often the most alluring restaurants don’t even hang the athlete’s name on the door. Michael Jordan’s first restaurant in Chicago, named after him, went belly-up. However, his second Windy City attempt, one sixty-blue, is buzzing. Go figure.

The list:

1. Vince Young Steakhouse (Austin, Texas)
2. Wayne Gretzky’s (Toronto)
3. Dan Marino’s (Las Vegas and Miami)
4. Elway’s (Denver)
5. Greg Norman’s Australian Grille (Myrtle Beach, S.C.)
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Slideshow: The 10 best athlete-owned restaurants

Updated Thursday, Apr 21, 2011