When it comes to the fusion of music and food, Hard Rock Café is possibly one of the best-known names in the world. With cafes all over the globe, everyone has heard of this name. Famed for housing some of the most valuable music memorabilia on the planet, the Hard Rock Café is a mecca for musicians and music fans alike. Whilst we have all heard the name, there are many surprising facts about the Hard Rock Café. Below is a breakdown of the top 10 untold truths.
10. The Franchise is Owned by a Tribe
One of the most surprising facts about the Hard Rock Café is that the franchise is actually owned by the Seminole Tribe of Florida, one of only three federally recognized Seminole tribes. It was sold to the tribe on December the 7th 2007 for a staggering $965 million. The sale included the ownership of 124 Hard Rock Cafes as well as casinos, hotels and more.
Whilst the majority of the franchise was sold to the Seminole Tribe, the sale did not include the purchase of The Hard Rock Hotel and the Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas. In fact, these were sold by a Mr. Peter Morton to the Morgans Hotel Group in the previous year.
As of December 2015, there are a total of 191 Hard Rock locations in a total of a staggering 75 different countries. These locations consist of over 180 cafes, 21 hotels, and 11 casinos. You can find a Hard Rock location in most of the biggest cities in the world including Moscow, London, Las Vegas, and so many others.
9. The First Memorabilia Contribution was from Eric Clapton
The first piece of memorabilia to be obtained by the Hard Rock Café was a guitar owned and played by rock superstar Eric Clapton. Any serious guitar enthusiast will undoubtedly consider the ‘Tears in Heaven’ hit-maker an absolute legend in the music world. The musician reportedly wanted to give Isaac Tigrett, one of the original founders of Hard Rock Café, a guitar as a gift.
Reportedly, Tigrett responded to Clapton by saying that he didn’t play guitar. Clapton then suggested that Tigrett display the guitar on the wall of the café. It was this suggestion that started the tradition of displaying some of the most valuable music memorabilia in the world on the walls of the Hard Rock venues.
Surprisingly, Clapton is set to release a 2018 Christmas album titled ‘Happy Xmas’. This couldn’t be further away from the rock hits of the past. Even more surprising is the fact that he has decided to dedicate the album to the late DJ Avicii who passed away this year.
Whilst it is certainly a very thoughtful dedication, who would think to associate the two artists from completely different genres?
8. The First Live Performance at Hard Rock was by Paul McCartney & Wings
When it comes to the name Hard Rock Café, the first thing that springs to mind is live performances by some of the rock world’s kings and queens. However, this was not always the case. During the early days, liver performances at Hard Rock venues were not exactly what the business was known for.
It wasn’t until 1973 when this changed after a famous performance by Paul McCartney & Wings. However, they weren’t actually booked to play a gig. Instead, they performed and impromptu set with the idea of warming up for their tour of the UK. This performance was a turning point and started the tradition of some of the most famous acts in the world playing at Hard Rock venues.
These days, there are hundreds of live shows at Hard Rock venues all over the world. This year, for example, you can watch comedy in the form of Amy Schumer and Friends at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Florida, or if you are a Christina Aguilera fan you can watch the Grammy award-winning artist perform at the very same Hard Rock Event Center.
What started off as an impromptu performance by Paul McCartney and Wings has certainly expanded to now include comedy, musicals, live gigs and more at locations all over the globe.
7. Hard Rock Café Once Went Vegetarian for a Day
When thinking about the Hard Rock franchise, one of the things that spring to mind is a good hamburger. After all, the founders of the café started the business with the aim of serving high-quality American burgers. However, there was one day when Hard Rock Café actually went vegetarian for the day.
This was way back on the 26th June 1995. Tennis champion Martina Navratilova hosted a party at the venue in aid of PETA. Of course, at a PETA event, the last thing that you want to be serving is meat, so the venue decided to provide an all-vegetarian menu for the day. As you can imagine, it went back to its traditional roots the next day, but it is certainly an interesting fact.
As with most modern American eateries, the Hard Rock franchise offers a number of eating challenges for punters to participate in. One of the most popular is the Kitchen Sink Challenge. Participants have 30 minutes to consume a Kitchen Sink Burger (which is a 10-ounce beef patty!) with a side of fries and a fried pickle.
Sounds easy? Not when you include the 3lb slice of Kitchen Sink Cake which consists of seven layers from brownies to peanut butter crunch, all served with ice cream on top. No thank you! For those of you brave enough to take on the challenge, you can take part at the Universal Hard Rock Hotel in Orlando, Florida.
6. Antiques Roadshow Filmed in a London Hard Rock Café
Antiques Roadshow and Hard Rock Café are two things that you would never expect to find in the same sentence. The British television show is famed for members of the public bringing in their antiques to be valued, sometimes enabling them to auction them off for huge sums of money.
The Hard Rock Café in London played host to the team at Antiques Roadshow, allowing them to film there. However, this episode was a little different as it only featured music memorabilia owned by members of the public. There were certainly some real hidden gems unearthed and some shocking valuations.
One of the biggest shockers was a rare first cut tape of the world-famous single Do They Know It’s Christmas? By Band-Aid. The owner from Islington was stunned to find out that it could be worth a six-figure sum.
Another member of the public brought along his signed Roger Daltrey microphone. He was equally as surprised when he was told that it could potentially be worth over one thousand pounds. Time to get looking through your music memorabilia folks!
5. The World-Famous Merchandise Came About Accidentally
The Hard Rock Café logo is recognized all over the world and is possibly one of the most famous logos in both the music industry and the food industry. The merchandise is one of the biggest revenue streams from the business. However, what you may not know is that the t-shirts with the famous logo actually came about completely accidentally.
During the early years, Hard Rock Café sponsored a football team from London, where the team members would wear the logo on their strips. Any extra shirts that were left over were given away to frequent customers of the London chain.
Soon after, customers would come into the café and ask for the shirts. Staff at the London branch decided to set up a stall selling the merchandise outside the café, and this is where it all started. These days, the sale of Hard Rock Café merchandise makes up 40% of their revenue.
These days, you can find all sorts of Hard Rock memorabilia both online and in Hard Rock locations all over the world, from clothing to posters and everything in between. If you are a music fan, then a piece of Hard Rock memorabilia is an absolutely essential item to add to your collection.
If you take a look online, you will see that there are official Hard Rock websites where you can now purchase all kinds of memorabilia, from clothing to pins, glassware, magnets, and even drumsticks among many other branded items. Again, for a true music fan, this is your perfect opportunity to start your Hard Rock collection!
4. Originally Only Waitresses of a Certain Age Were Hired
When the Hard Rock Café’s first started appearing all over the world, managers would only hire a waitress if she was over the age of 30. This is because they wanted to maintain the image of a typical nighttime American diner with your typical 30 something waitress bringing your food and drinks.
Of course, this isn’t the case today. Not only are there employment laws that would protect against age discrimination, but it also no longer fits the brand’s overall image. These days, you will find staff members from all races and ages working for different parts of the Hard Rock Café brand.
The most famous waitress to work for the Hard Rock chain is Rita Gilligan. The 75-year-old from Galway has served some of the most famous faces in the world, from Muhammed Ali to the Beckhams’s and even royalty in the form of Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie. As you can imagine, Rita certainly has some interesting stories to tell. She has worked at the London branch since 1971.
3. They House Some of the Most Famous Music Memorabilia in the World
For those who haven’t yet visited a Hard Rock Café, one of the things that you will know about the business is that they house some of the most famous music memorabilia on the entire planet. As it stands, they have on display over 80,000 pieces of memorabilia in their cafes all over the world.
Some of the most famous examples, aside from the original guitars from Clapton and Townshend, are Michael Jackson’s ‘Beat It’ jacket, a flying V guitar from Jimi Hendrix, Prince’s famous ruffle shirt, jackets from Paul McCartney and John Lennon along with tens of thousands of other pieces.
There are Hard Rock venues all over the world these days, so there is something for every music fan to marvel at, no matter where in the world they may be. The value of all of this memorabilia goes into the hundreds of millions, as you can imagine.
Musicians from all genres from metal to jazz, hip-hop to rock and everything in between have donated items to different Hard Rock locations. Traditional memorabilia such as signed items of clothing, vinyl, posters, and musical instruments can all be marveled at. If you are a music fan, you do not want to miss the opportunity to see some of these gems.
2. Their Burgers Are Out of this World
Although the main attraction to any Hard Rock Café is undoubtedly the awe-inspiring memorabilia collection, it is easy to forget about the food that is served. However, anyone who has been to a Hard Rock Café will tell you that their food, particularly their burgers are delicious.
The burgers have become so popular that each café now hosts a Burger World Tour every year. During this event, Hard Rock Café will add different burgers that have been inspired by cuisine from all over the world to their menus for a limited time.
For example, they have had a Korean Kimchi Burger featuring traditional Korean ingredients along with their mouth-watering beef patty. Another popular offering was the burger that drew inspiration from Buenos Aires in Argentina. These are just two examples of the burgers that have featured on the World Burger Tour, there are plenty of others to try.
Burgers are not the only thing on the Hard Rock menu, though. Typical American offerings such as ribs, wings, Mac n’ Cheese, nachos and even the classic rib eye steak, you can taste it all at the Hard Rock Cafe. Not only are these cafes a haven for music fans, but foodies will absolutely love the mouthwatering dishes on offer, too.
1. The London Hard Rock Café Has Links to Royalty
As you can imagine, thousands of famous faces have frequented Hard Rock Cafés all over the world. After all, it was Eric Clapton visiting the original Hard Rock Café that started off the music memorabilia tradition. However, we would never expect the business to have ties to royalty.
What you may not know is that when Princess Diana tried on her wedding dress, it was in what was the vault of Coutts Bank. This is now the Hard-Rock Vault. As well as this, it is a known fact that Prince Harry, Princess Diana’s son, is a huge fan of the annual Hard Rock festival.
Prince Harry has always been a bit of a wild child, so the fact that he enjoys festivals like this comes as no surprise at all! No reports of Her Majesty being a Hard Rock fan, but who knows, stranger things have happened! In all seriousness though, it is a testament to the popularity of the franchise that so many famous faces regard Hard Rock as something that they want to be involved in.
According to a newspaper report, waitress Rita Gilligan had to tell off Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie when they were children dining at the restaurant for being too wild! As well as it’s links to actual royalty, Hard Rock has some of the most famous fans in the world, from Sir Paul McCartney to the Late Michael Jackson, The Who, Queen and hundreds of other stars from the world of rock and roll.
With such a rich, interesting history, and some of the most fascinating music memorabilia in the world, it is easy to see why the Hard Rock Café has become such a mecca in the music world. For any die-hard music fan, a trip to any of the Hard Rock locations is undoubtedly an absolute must-have on the bucket list.
Fortunately, wherever you are in the world, it is likely that there will be either a Hard Rock Cafe location or a Hard Rock Casino or Hotel within easy traveling distance. For any true music fan, a trip to one of these world-famous locations will be a truly memorable experience. If you really want to get the most out of your trip to a Hard Rock location, take a look at some of the different venues and see what memorabilia they have on display. You could be within touching distance of something owned by one of your idols!