Justin Timberlake brought some Southern heat to New York City Wednesday night by celebrating the grand opening of his new restaurant, Southern Hospitality.
The new barbecue joint specializes in the food Timberlake and his pals Trace Ayala and Eytan Sugarman, who co-hosted the event, grew up with – traditional Memphis-style cuisine such as spare ribs, homemade buttermilk biscuits and crab and corn fritters.
In fact, many of the dishes are derived from Timberlake’s original family recipes – including desserts his grandmother made. “We had to negotiate on which ones she was willing to give up,” said Timberlake, whose grandmother and grandfather both visited the restaurant Wednesday.
As for his favorite meal on the menu, Timberlake said he likes “fried green tomatoes and the pulled pork.”
Also on hand to celebrate the opening of the Upper East Side eatery were Jay-Z, Lance Bass, Seth Green, Jamie-Lynn Sigler and the Rev. Al Sharpton.
“I’m here because there’s food – and I know them,” Green told PEOPLE at the event.
Asked about his own culinary skills, Green said, “I’m excellent with breakfast foods. I’m good with omelets and pancakes. I bring it home for you.”
Inside, Southern Hospitality is homey, decorated with antiques from Memphis flea markets.
To hear more from Justin and his grandparents on Southern food, secret recipes and family ties, pick up next week’s issue of PEOPLE.
• Reporting by MICHELLE TAN