Jessica Biel shuttered her terrible LA restaurant Au Fudge after two awful years

Jessica Biel seen leaving Au Fudge

Several years ago, Jessica Biel settled on an idea for a vanity side-project: she was going to open up a “family friendly” restaurant where parents could go with their kids and everything would be stress-free yet trendy. It took years of careful planning, and then she opened Au Fudge in early 2016. The reviews were bad – the food was nothing special, there wasn’t much of a kids’ menu, and Biel’s version of “family friendly” is a two-page booze menu. There were also complaints about how cramped everything was, and how the place wasn’t that hygienic either. To make matters worse, nine ex-employees sued Biel and Au Fudge last fall for defrauding them out of their tips and more. Total mess. So… after about two and a half years, Au Fudge is done.

Say so long to Au Fudge. The trendy eatery opened by actress Jessica Biel in 2016 that was created with moms and families in mind, abruptly closed its doors on Sunday, July 15. A source tells Us Weekly the West Hollywood restaurant, which was set up with areas where kids could do art projects and other activities while their parents ate, is “done.” Per the source, the news was upsetting for those who worked there: “The staff found out a couple days ago and tearfully greeted guests on its last day.”

The restaurant’s closing was confirmed by a pair of Instagram posts shared on July 14 and 15. The first post expressed gratitude to Au Fudge’s loyal customers stating, “Thank you for so many years of support. Tomorrow is our last day open at the restaurant, but more things to come from Au Fudge. As of Monday, July 16, we will be open for private events.” A follow-up post shared just hours later once again confirmed the establishment is shutting its doors. “Today is our last day of regular business hours at Au Fudge the restaurant. We are still available for private events and @aufudgecamp is only a few blocks away!” the post explained. “Thanks for all the support.”

Biel, who has a 3-year-old son, Silas, with husband Justin Timberlake, hinted that Au Fudge wasn’t exactly thriving in a January 2017 interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live. “The restaurant business is way harder than being a producer,” she told Kimmel at the time. “[We’re] definitely not making money. Nobody’s making money in the restaurant business, in my experience, at least not yet.” While the restaurant is no more, Au Fudge CAMP (Center for Art Music and Play) will still offer weekly classes such as toddler dance and French music for children ages 4 months to 8 years.

[From Us Weekly]

People always say that starting a restaurant is really difficult, but I tend to think that Biel made it a lot harder than it needed to be. She half-assed her vanity side-project and it showed. She didn’t hire people who knew how to run a successful restaurant, she didn’t hire people to set up the restaurant in the right way, and she definitely didn’t think about the food. I tend to think that people will overlook a lack of ambience and general shadiness if the food is really outstanding. That’s not what happened here: it’s almost as if the actual FOOD was an afterthought for this restaurant. I would say that you live and you learn, but Biel was a grown-ass woman who could afford to hire smart people to carry out her vision and make it successful. She didn’t do that.

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58 Responses to “Jessica Biel shuttered her terrible LA restaurant Au Fudge after two awful years”

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  1. Moxie Remon says:

    With a name like that, it was doomed from the start.

    • Naddie says:

      I thought the same. What an awful name.

    • holly hobby says:

      I don’t know why I know this but it was named after a children’s book, “Au Fudge.” Also, she had a lot of other partners in this business. One guy who actually ran a restaurant so it’s not all on her. People like to blame her because she is the most famous partner in the business but there were others who can share the blame.

      • Amanduh says:

        Oohhhh…I thought it was a play on words! When you want to say “Oh FCUK!” But have to say “Oh FUDGE” bc kids are around!

    • TandemBikeEscapee says:

      The name belies the disgusting clean up mess for the dollar an hour employees. (servers rely on tips, and are NOT pd well enough to clean up treehouses full of Au fudge) EEeyyyyuuucch.

  2. Seraphina says:

    Where I live, smaller family owned restaurants do best. And there’s is a reason for that. Very trendy or themed restaurants are short lived. And to be a chain at the top, you need to get your sh!$ straight and know what you are doing. Clearly Jess did not.

  3. Clare says:

    I never quite understand why people don’t like her (other than that her husband is a twat). What am I missing? Surely hundreds of restaurants open and fail every year – why does she get such a hard side eye?

    • Steph says:

      She once said she wasn’t hired for serious roles or something because she was too beautiful. I honestly dont care about it. People project a lot of their insecurities with actors.

      • cr says:

        I think it’s a general eyeyrolling toward her than active dislike or hate. She’s clueless, but harmless. But though she’s gotten some nominations for her role in The Sinner, the idea of her being a ‘serious’ actress is still pretty laughable. So no, she wasn’t being denied roles because of her beauty, it was because there other beautiful actresses who can actually act. So if that’s what she wants to tell herself, so be it. She just shouldn’t expect people not to think it’s funny and clueless.

      • SlightlyAnonny says:

        Oooh. I remember this. She also disparaged Kristen Scott Thomas in an interview, basically saying (and this is a paraphrase) that KST had never had to work with a younger and more beautiful woman like Biel and so that made her cold towards Biel on set. She also claimed to be Native American but I have no clue if she actually is or is just of the tribe of Blake Lively and Johnny Depp.

      • Katie says:

        Hah- I personally don’t get her appeal. She’s not a good actress and is passable. To me she reminds me of a beaver. Get mad at me- but people always call Benedict Cumberbatch an otter. Or say he looks like one. So yeah, she resembles a beaver.

    • Enough Already says:

      A lot of restaurants tank because of the economy. Jessica’s restaurant tanked because of epic mismanagement and gross incompetency. One gets the impression that beyond coming up with the name and imagining all the posh play dates she would overcharge for, Beal didn’t give a toss about running an actual restaurant of even mediocre quality.

      • magnoliarose says:

        This is my issue with her and this restaurant. It was poorly executed and arrogant the way she put so little thought into the food. This didn’t even seem like she had real parents with young children in mind. She has the means and connections to do a better job and she didn’t.
        Price points in restaurants are more important than some new restauranteurs seem to think. It is the value and quality that determine if someone feels they paid the right price no matter how wealthy someone is. No matter if it is fine dining or take out or a deli or a food truck.
        I don’t know of anyone who likes feeling like they overpaid for a meal. The prices were stupid for average nothing food. That kind of thing always annoys me.

      • Enough Already says:

        Exactly. She overestimated her star power and assumed her name would make up for the experience. Far bigger celebrities have learned this never works when it comes to people and food. People care a lot about what they eat. I’ve paid embarrassingly high prices for two ounces of world class sushimi and didn’t feel cheated and I’ve grumbled over a poor quality $2 slice of pizza.

    • Veronica S. says:

      The big criticism for me is the tips. If they were defrauding their employees of their tips when they live in a country where their entire base pay goes into taxes and they never see, that’s pretty shitty. You want to put your name on something, you take responsibility for the treatment of the people who work there. I have no sympathy for rich people who let people get exploited on their watch.

    • AnotherB says:

      I think it’s a combo of the “I’m too beautiful to get great parts” and her being married to Timberlake. I don’t dislike her though. She seems pretty bland.

    • Bridget says:

      She was a brat as a teenager, THIRSTY as a starlet, and resentful that she wasn’t given more opportunities that she felt she deserved. However, I think the general consensus on her now is that being married to Timberlake is punishment enough and folks kind of moved on (and she probably really has matured from her early/mid 20s).

      • 2020vision says:

        Bridget, you said it best. And the other posters noting the kind of entitled way she brought this restaurant concept to bear (or ultimately not) hit the nail on the head as to why people are being negative towards her. Never been there but the stories and reviews seemed to show she and partners didn’t care about customers or staff.

    • Tiffany :) says:

      Something like 80% of restaurants and bars close within 2 years of opening. It really isn’t shocking that it closed. In that area, the overhead is so expensive, they must have had an incredible minimum they had to meet each day.

    • 2bounce4u says:

      She’s a b**ch in a sheep clothing and word is she’s not well liked in the industry, also mocks Britney on Twitter.

    • Hikaru says:

      She’s obsessed with Britney and kept shading her left and right over the years. When Britney started her lingerie line she tweeted some shit about how life’s too short to wear mediocre underwear.

      It’s also too short to be a mediocre Z-list married to Justin Timberlake yet here we are.

      • All that says to me is that Justin must be obsessed with Britney, otherwise, why would his wife be? He had been with Cameron Diaz before Beil, long after Britney so it makes no sense for Jessica to care about Britney at all.

      • magnoliarose says:

        I didn’t know this about her. Mocking a person with mental health issues is low down. I remember years ago a story about her irresponsible pet ownership too.

  4. Jane says:

    I’m sure that when they were failing miserably in profits, she didn’t say, “Au Fudge”.

  5. Mia4s says:

    “Biel’s version of “family friendly” is a two-page booze menu.”

    Well in fairness, if I was married to Justin Timberlake that would probably be my menu too.

  6. Jegede says:

    I understand that very few restaurants stay open for longer than 5 years.

    Especially in California. Wonder if that’s true.

    • Esmom says:

      I’ve heard three years (I’m in Chicago). It’s too bad that someone with her resources couldn’t make it work. Sounds like she never had a solid plan or a good team to execute her vision.

      In my neighborhood, a guy literally poured his life savings into opening a restaurant that everyone was excited about. It was in a prime space that’s sort of a neighborhood cornerstone. It tanked in less than a year, mostly because the food was just not great. And the ambiance was too cold, imo. Biel at least probably won’t feel any financial repercussions from this project but this local guy is ruined. It’s sad.

    • T.Fanty says:

      50% of Restuarants fail in their first year. Most places lose money for the first six or so months and the food always loses money. Almost every restaurant makes its profit on its booze.

      It sounds like she over-estimated the “mommies with wine” cliche. Certainly, mums like to drink, but once the kids are in bed, and certainly not when they have to drive them home.

    • Veronica S. says:

      More or less. It’s an extremely difficult business to succeed in because it can be affected by a lot of different factors, including economic and environmental changes (it doesn’t help that Millenials are pickier and sparing about where they eat out because it tends to be our “luxury” – hence why places like Applebees are struggling). Location is really the biggest key – you have to be somewhere accessible for the audience you want to reach, and it has to give them a reason to go.

      A lot of people assume being a chef is enough to run a restaurant, but it really needs a very sharp, business savvy mind to work the financial side. There was a great restaurant near where I lived about a decade that was doing incredibly well – at least until the owners had a falling out, and the guy with the business mindset left, which led to the restaurant’s closure. It’s led to a new, very well managed four-star restaurant replacing them that seems to be sticking around, but you can see how quickly it turns over.

      • magnoliarose says:

        That is true about us Millenials. We don’t want microwaved chain food. We have grown up in the era of the foodie and are more health conscious.

        One of the restaurants we loved closed for the opposite reason. It was a delicious Middle Eastern restaurant that had the absolute best fattoush in the world. Middle Eastern food is great for vegetarians and vegans because there is so much to eat. Anyway, the partner that was the excellent chef left and the food became lousy. He went back to Lebanon and took all his recipes with him.

    • Alexis says:

      I believe it takes 3 years to get an idea if a restaurant will be a success or not.

  7. Nancy says:

    I can’t remember why I used to think she was pretty. Think it’s the high cheekbones, I’m a sucker for them, one of the reasons I found my hubby so handsome! That’s all I got on Jess.

    • Esmom says:

      I’ve always thought she was pretty. She has a unique look, imo.

      • Nancy says:

        That’s a good word to describe her, unique. She definitely is not the cookie cutter celeb wife we’re used to seeing. I feel bad for the man in your neighborhood. You put out your blood, sweat and tears for naught. Hope he doesn’t give up, always keep dreaming….

      • Naddie says:

        Me too. You can’t mistake her from someone else.

    • Veronica S. says:

      She’s go a unique beauty about her, but man does she need to get rid of that fringe. It does nothing for her face.

  8. BooRadley says:

    Wow harsh criticisms. I really enjoyed the
    food and atmosphere. Slow as hell service that the food came out cold but really a great idea.

    • Dot says:

      The criticisms are really harsh for a topic like this. I mean.. it was a restaurant that closed. A lot of celebrities have failed side projects. I personally have never eaten there (and I would guess that most people commenting haven’t either) so I can’t say one way or the other. Just seems weird that this topic would elicit such reactions..

      • T.Fanty says:

        If they were skimming the tips, then it deserves all the criticism it gets.

      • Dot says:

        The suit was dismissed by the plaintiffs.

      • AnotherB says:

        Not treating employees well is awful and shady (ie skimming the tips). However if that was dismissed I really can’t see dragging her too hard for this. Lots of celeb restaurants fail.

      • holly hobby says:

        It was dismissed without prejudice and it’s mentioned in the news articles I read that they are planning to refile at a later time. Not sure why they sought a dismissal but it’s not over and there was no settlement.

      • AMA1977 says:

        The suit being dismissed means nothing. It could have been filed in the wrong jurisdiction, or named the wrong Defendants, or any one of a dozen procedural reasons. It could be that the Defendants decided to settle rather than litigate. A dismissal on it’s face (especially if filed without prejudice as to refiling) means very little.

  9. SamC says:

    When I first heard the name I thought it was an ice cream/dessert place or a candy shop, not a full scale restaurant, and imagine I’m not the only one. Last year friend visiting LA went, expecting it to be a fun, family friendly place, ie. Serendipity in NY, based on all the promo they read and it wasn’t. Celeb friends and single visit tourists will only get you so far if the food is subpar, kind of like many of Guy Fieri’s places.

  10. S says:

    We had this great local restaurant that recently shuttered that was based around being kid friendly and I really miss it. It seemed like a much better concept than Au Fudge, though. They had three pretty big supervised playrooms, where the kids could play, and eat, while the parents sat in the main dining room. The largest room had these really cool giant playhouses, with (play) kitchens inside and a pretend grocery store the kids could shop at, complete with a moving belt and cash register. Then there was a room with Lego and train tables, and video game systems then, lastly, a big theater room with beanbags and tray tables the kids could sit and eat in while watching Disney movies. My kids loved to go, and they’d even box their meals if they didn’t eat them (mine rarely did, because they were too busy playing). You checked the kids in when you sat down and then signed them out when you left, and the cost of the kids’ meal covered the supervised play area, too. Don’t know if they didn’t charge enough or what, but I thought it was a fantastic concept and the food was good, too.

  11. Lucy2 says:

    It’s seemed to have problems from the start, but as others have said, restaurants are tricky business and it’s not surprising when they fail.
    I give her credit for trying something, but it doesn’t seem like it was as well thought out as it could’ve been. Hopefully she does better next time.

  12. Librakitty says:

    The concept is great, but her execution was messy. I went there with my children and some friends. It was soooo cramped, and the kids’ play area, though cute (had a tree house they could climb) was gnarly dirty. We had to sit at the bar….for breakfast, with our kids.

    • AnotherB says:

      It was way too cramped for the concept but I know people liked the classes they offered.

  13. Vinot says:

    Lol @ “so many years of support.” Two. Two years of support. Two =/= so many. Au Fudge even half-assed their closing lmao

  14. Faithmobile says:

    Why is there such a high failure rate? Because In no other industry do people decide to go into business with zero experience. Restaurants have a 10% profit margin that can quickly become 0% if the business is mismanaged. Celebrity only gets people in the door, without an unlimited supply of tourists, restaurants have to have repeate customers-loyal customers.

  15. Alexis says:

    “I tend to think that people will overlook a lack of ambiance and general shadiness if the food is really outstanding”.

    That is very true. I will drive to a not so great part of town, to go to a restaurant with a not so great ambiance, when I know that the food is amazing.

  16. tealily says:

    I think most places can get get away with either good food or good atmosphere. Both are ideal, but neither is just… nothing.

  17. FF says:

    I hope all the staff got paid for all their work and got their tips before it closed, especially if they were informed about the closure at the last minute.

    If the other staff had to sue for their money it might have been in trouble before now.

  18. 2020vision says:

    Food and fashion aren’t sectors for sloppy business models, no matter how famous you are and how much easy marketing you can get.