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|Hard Rock Cafe is a chain of casual dining restaurants. It was founded in 1971 by Isaac Tigrett and Peter Morton, and their first Hard Rock Cafe opened near Hyde Park Corner in London, in a former Rolls Royce car dealerships showroom close to Hyde Park, where in 1979 they began to cover the walls with rock 'n' roll ephemera.|
There are more than 143 Hard Rock Cafes in over 36 countries at current date, with several more in the works. Hard Rock was most popular in the 1980s when some people engaged in the hobby of visiting as many locations as possible and collecting a Hard Rock t-shirt bearing the Cafe logo and the location name. Pin collecting is an alternative for amassing of memorabilia.
The cafe was reportedly named after side one of The Doors' 1970 album, Morrison Hotel, which was in turn named after a now closed bar in down town Los Angeles depicted on the back cover of Morrison Hotel. The Hard Rock Cafe's motto Love All, Serve All was adopted from Tigrett's guru Sathya Sai Baba.
A second location, originally developed by an unaffiliated group and later purchased by Hard Rock International, opened in downtown Toronto in 1978. (Toronto is now home to 2 cafes).
The chain began global expansion in 1982 when the two agreed to develop their own cafes across the world. Morton (Hard Rock America) opened Hard Rocks in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, and Houston while Tigrett (Hard Rock International) did so in New York City, Dallas, and Paris, France.
Eventually Tigrett sold his interest to Robert Earl and Mecca Leisure, but Morton opened several more units including Las Vegas, Nevada; San Diego, La Jolla, and Newport Beach, California; Sydney and Melbourne, Australia; Honolulu and Maui, Hawaii; and Israel (later closed) among many others.
In 1990, The Rank Organisation (now The Rank Group) acquired Mecca Leisure and continued expanding the cafes, acquiring the cafes owned by Morton in 1995 at the same time as purchasing the Canadian units that were developed by an unaffiliated company.
Expansion into other businesses
Casinos and hotels
In 1995, Peter Morton opened the first Hard Rock Hotel & Casino off the Las Vegas strip and it was an overnight sensation. Under Peter Mortons leadership, the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas was so successful that a subsequent 1999 expansion was added that nearly doubled the hotel's capacity. Morton spent $80 million to build the hotel, which opened in early 1995, and $100 million to expand it in 1999.
In May 2006, Morton sold the Las Vegas Hard Rock Hotel to New York based Morgans Hotel Group for $770 million including the rights to the Hard Rock Hotel brand west of the Mississippi River, including Texas, California, Australia and Vancouver, British Columbia. Edward Scheetz, a Morgans executive, described the 11-story, 650-room Hard Rock Hotel as a "trophy property" that will never be replicated in Las Vegas because of land values. The Hard Rock pool alone, named one of the top 10 hotel pools by Travel Channel, occupies W. land valued at $50 million.
In addition to Hard Rocks Las Vegas operation, Hard Rock International has also opened successful casinos in London, England; Tampa and Hollywood, Florida; and Biloxi, Mississippi (under reconstruction due to Hurricane Katrina). The Seminole Indian Tribe of Florida operates the Florida units. Hard Rock also has a very profitable operation online. Additionally, Hard Rock International and Sol Melia Hotels and Resorts, the largest resort hotel company in the world today, launched a joint-venture company (November 2004), Lifestar Hoteles Espana S.L., to manage Europe's first Hard Rock Hotel in Madrid, which was the fourth Hard Rock Hotel to be part of the joint venture since its formation in 2003, the others being in Chicago, New York, and San Diego (the San Diego property includes Hard Rock condominiums). Hard Rock also operates hotels and resorts in Orlando, Florida (a joint venture with Loews Hotels); Bali, Indonesia; and Pattaya, Thailand (joint ventures with Ong Beng Seng/Hotel Properties Limited).
Hard Rock International (Rank Organisation) continues to expand the Hard Rock Hotel brand internationally (hotels, casinos, resorts, and now condominiums) through several of the afore mentioned joint ventures (Sol Melia, Ong Beng Seng/Hotel Properties Limited, Loews Hotels, and the Seminole Indian Nation) including:
. Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Hollywood, Florida
. Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Tampa
. Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Biloxi (original opening in September 2005 delayed indefinitely due to Hurricane Katrina)
. Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas
. Hard Rock Casino, London
. Hard Rock Hotel & Resort Bali, Bali - Indonesia
Hard Rock Park amusement park
Hard Rock Café International announced in March 2006 the $400 million 150 acre Hard Rock Park that opens in the spring of 2008 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The park, billed as a totally immersive full-day attraction, appealing to visitors of all generations, is expected to draw an estimated 30,000 visitors per day and create more than 3,000 jobs, and is also the largest single investment in South Carolina history. The park will feature a large concert arena, which will feature headline entertainment, similar acts to those seen on the Hard Rock Live series filmed at the Hard Rock Café at Universal City Walk in Orlando, Florida. The groundbreaking park will feature six unique, custom-designed zones and will include more than 40 attractions, a multi-purpose live music amphitheater, shows and state-of-the-art sound systems - uniquely developed for the project, roller coasters, children's play areas, restaurants, cafes and retail stores.
Seminole Tribe of Florida Takeover
On December 7, 2006, Rank sold the Hard Rock business to the Seminole Tribe of Florida for US$965 million. Included in the deal are 124 Hard Rock Cafes, four Hard Rock Hotels, two Hard Rock Casino Hotels, two Hard Rock Live! concert venues, and stakes in three unbranded hotels. Rank is keeping the Hard Rock Casino in London, but will be changing its name. The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas is also not part of the deal, as it was sold by Peter Morton to Morgans Hotel Group in May 2006. The final takeover was mired in controversy, as another of the chain's suitors, Power Plant Entertainment, charged that Merrill Lynch sabotaged its acquisition efforts. On January 8, 2007, Rank Group shareholders approved the Seminoles' US$965 million offer. The Tribe expects to have finalized the deal by March 5, 2007.
Hard Rock is better known for its atmosphere than its food. The cafes not only solicit donations of music memorabilia, but also purchase a number of items at auctions around the world. Hard Rock has the world's largest collection of such items. Memorabilia like autographed guitars, outfits from world tours and rare photographs are oft to be found mounted on cafe walls. The collection began in 1979 with the gift of a un-signed guitar (a Red Fender Lead II) from Eric Clapton, who was a regular at the first restaurant in London. Pete Townshend of The Who got wind of this and sent in one of his guitars, also un-signed. Attached was a note: "Mine's as good as his! Love, Pete." Hard Rock has so much material in its archive that it opened a Hard Rock museum named "The Vault" in Orlando, Florida. It closed in 2005.
Memorabilia is displayed on location for seven years before it is returned to Hard Rock headquarters in Orlando for archival storage. On occasion, Hard Rock has given an item back to its original owner, such as when Peter Frampton asked for his displayed guitar back.
Hard Rock Cafe Pin site
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