Sports Illustrated

Originally Published: June 1999

Alice's Restaurant

Rock meets jock over chili fries at Alice Cooper's new eatery

Author: John Walters

Seminal shock-rocker Alice Cooper has changed his tune. Cooper, who long ago heeded the call of The Byrds in "So You Want to Be a Rock'n'Roll Star" is now guided by an inner muse playing "So You Want to Be a Restaurateur". Last December, in his hometown of Phoenix, Cooper, 51, launched Alice Cooper'stown, thus becoming the latest celebrity to throw his hat into the onion ring.

Located just a stage dive south of America West Arena and line drive west of Bank One Ballpark, Cooper'stown is a veritable Hard Jock Cafe, a venue where Pete Rose is as exalted as Axl Rose. An airy two-story, indoor-outdoor eatery, the ambiance is equal parts tailgate bash and backstage pass. Jason Kidd of the Suns and Jay Bell of the Diamondbacks often stop by for a postgame meal. "I'm a sports nut," says Cooper, a most affable gent when the mascara comes off. "At Cortez High (in Phoenix) I ran a 4:32 mile; and our track team had a four-year record of 72-0. I've even been to the other Cooperstown.

What would a theme eatery be without memorabilia? Rock trinkets, such as a Fender guitar display featuring the axes of Eric Clapton and Pete Townshend, share space on the walls with autographed jerseys from Joe Montana and Michael Jordan, and boxing trunks from Muhammad Ali. Dominating the interior is a wall of video monitors that can be programmed to show as many as 16 broadcasts, or as few as one spread over all 16 screens. On this day, for example, footage of John Fogerty singing "Centerfield" aired on four screens as the Dodgers' Devon White played the position on two others.

You can get almost anything you want at Alice's restaurant-everything from Ryne Sandburgers to No More Mr. Nice Guy Chipotle Chicken Pasta. One of the menu's biggest sellers is a tow-foot-long hot dog named the Big Unit after part owner and Diamondbacks pitcher Randy Johnson.

The culinary arts might seem an odd gig for a man who has recorded hits titled Poison and Welcome to My Nightmare. On a Recent VH-1 Behind the Music special, rocker Rob Zombie praised Cooper as the Johnny Appleseed of bad taste. Zombie may have been referring to a Toronto concert in the early 70's in which Cooper tossed a live chicken into the audience, and the mob threw it back onto the stage - in several pieces. "So I do have experience," says Cooper, "serving food to large masses of people."