Jann Wenner, the gay Rolling Stone publisher who generally believes his employees are morons and he could do their job better blindfolded and gagged with Derek Jeter’s jock, is expanding beyond magazine publishing. He’s opening his own restaurant chain. Ugh.
We’d blame it on Jann’s coterie of advisers, but Jann answers to, and takes the advice of no one. So his decision to open a restaurant and nightclub in Hollywood must be entirely his call.
Sure, Jann’s celeb tabloid Us Weekly is making him a handsome profit, but this is a guy who’s venturing out of one dying industry (print magazine publishing) into another one that’s circling the toilet (restaurant administration). And while Jann may think the Rolling Stone brand is tops, the magazine grows smaller, less-read, and more irrelevant every year. Couple that with Jann’s plan to go up against Planet Hollywood and the Hard Rock Cafe — restaurant chains that have seen cash flow plummet — and this is a recipe for disaster on a scale only Jann Wenner could never see coming. (Wenner & Co. insist they’re going “higher-end” than those two brands. Because higher-end venues are doing so well these days.)
Meanwhile, the one facet of the Rolling Stone brand that Jann could arguably leverage — the whole “music” thing — won’t be a part of the magazine’s restaurant plans.
The Rolling Stone venue in Hollywood will operate on two tiers, Donnelly said. On the top level, which opens into the mall, will be a restaurant and bar intended to appeal to the estimated 15 million tourists a year who come to the Hollywood intersection near Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. He also hopes to pull in local residents who may come to watch sports or have a drink.
At street level, on Highland Avenue, will be a more up-market lounge “which will be harder to get into,” Donnelly said. Like other late-night Hollywood lounges, it will include “bottle service,” where patrons buy their spirits such as vodka by the bottle — usually at hefty prices. The lounge may also be rented for corporate events.
Despite the magazine’s long marriage with the music industry, Hollywood’s Rolling Stone will not be in the concert business.
“We will have live music from time to time for record launches or parties,” Donnelly said. “Otherwise we’ll have a live deejay.”
The only way this has a chance in hell of actually generating profit? By turning the whole venture into a reality show. I’m From Rolling Stone may have bombed, but what about I Wait Tables at Rolling Stone? Let’s make magic, people.