Tonight The Dolce Group is grand-opening The Lemon Basket on Sunset Blvd., a new restaurant that rather quickly replaced the company’s Ketchup over the last few weeks. Tonight, a grand-opening party is planned at 7:00 P.M. with promised appearances from such people that we’d hoped never to see again as Heidi Montag (The Hills), Jake Pavelka (The Bachelor), Ashley Dupre (look it up if that doesn’t ring a bell), a Real Housewife of New Jersey, Big Pussy of The Sopranos, and two members of Three-Six Mafia. Random? Yeah, kinda. But after Eater put us on to the fact that the Lemon Basket is really just the mise-en-scene of a new VH1 reality show called Famous Food, in which the aforementioned "stars" run the restaurant, it all starts to make some sense.
Dolce is a restaurant company that counts at least four members of That 70’s Show and Jamie Kennedy as partners. Local longevity isn’t always its strongest suit, Geisha House being the notable exception. Typically, the only people we imagine going to Dolce Group restaurants are the ones who see them on reality shows like The Hills and Real Housewives. The next time they visit their city slicker cousins in L.A., they make a beeline to one of the places in the high hopes of catching a Kardashian or making out with Spencer Pratt. Okay, or maybe they come for the food. Maybe.
So naturally, combining the forces of a douchey star-leveraged restaurant with an actual douchey reality show is playing smartly into the douchey hands of its fan-base. In other words, the only people who are really pumped to watch Famous Food are fortunately the only kind of people who would also go eat at a restaurant that leaves its operations in the hands of Jake Pavelka.
You can check out the menu online and browse DJ Paul’s Memphis mac and cheese and different renditions of Kobe beef among all the farm-to-table plates. The food actually sounds pretty acceptable, as long as they don’t add too many more of these celeb-named dishes. We’re no longer sure anyone wants to be eating Ashley Dupre’s anything and a dish named after Vincet Pastore’s character should not exist. Yes, even at Pink Taco or Big Wang’s.
But whether or not Lemon Basket really works as a restaurant is probably beside the point. If you know reality TV, the stars will probably come and mess the place up royally through tears and screaming matches before pulling together as a team and making it work. Either way, the restaurant will earn instant fame among diners who spend more time with a cellphone camera in their hands than a fork, waiting for the moment when the hostess bitch-slaps the manager. Not all does the partnership make sense, but if anything at all goes wrong in the end, all the Dolce Group need do is point their fingers at Heidi Montag and shrug.
The Lemon Basket, grand-open tonight at 8590 West Sunset Blvd. West Hollywood.