Just how popular is it? There are actually three Hard Rock Cafes here in the greater L.A. basin. All of them offer the same basic mix of American burgers & shakes, loud rock & roll music, and lots of young teenage customers.
This Hard Rock Cafe is a famous celebrity mecca and something of a local landmark. (Drew Barrymore was hanging out there before she was old enough to drive.) Occasionally, stars even drop by for live performances, including John Mellancamp, the Moody Blues and Bob Geldof - so the noisy restaurant is a good spot for celebrity watching.
Inside, the always-crowded restaurants are miniature museums to rock & roll music. They are filled with glass display cases holding autographed guitars, gold records, posters, surfboards, jackets, and other items from rock stars.
That tradition started back in England, when regular Eric Clapton asked them to hang his guitar on the wall above his favourite bar stool. Pete Townshend (of The Who), perhaps a bit jealous, then sent them his own guitar to display. And soon the celebrity memorabilia collection was in full bloom.
In the West Hollywood Hard Rock, Elvis Presley's red Harley-Davidson motorcycle sits against the south wall (surrounded by photos of "The King"), while a silver spangled dress from Madonna is framed nearby. You can see sketches by John Lennon & Yoko Ono, a leather, beaded jacket worn by Jimi Hendrix, a world peace flag from "U2," and an eccentric pair of glasses from Elton John (push a button and they light up!)
The red suit worn by Steven Tyler of Aerosmith (in the music video "Love In An Elevator") is framed near the door; a huge mock-up of the Space Shuttle hangs from the ceiling of the Hard Rock; nearby a large replica of the Statue of Liberty holds her torch aloft. Countless autographed guitars line the walls, including instruments from Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam, the Black Crowes, Joe Walsh, Roy Orbison, the Spin Doctors and Billy Idol. Some of the guitars are unique, shaped like sharks and skeletons.
the competition from Planet Hollywood,
House of Blues, and other imitators,
there are still long lines of young customers (and tourists) waiting to
get into the Hard Rock. Those very popular Hard Rock t-shirts are
also sold at the restaurant. (I am firmly convinced that there are more
people out there wearing Hard Rock Cafe t-shirts than have ever
visited an actual Hard Rock Cafe. That says a lot about the merchandising
savvy of this chain of restaurants.)
Both the interior and exterior of this Los Angeles hot spot were seen in the 1991 movie "L.A. Story," in a comic scene where an embarrassed Steve Martin has an awkward first date with a much younger Sarah Jessica Parker. She writes her name on the palm of his hand, forces him to memorize her phone number, then makes him wave to her live-in boyfriend at the bar.
(Morton and Tigrett
went their separate ways long ago, dividing the Hard Rocks between them
- with Morton getting the West coast cafés, and Tigrett the East
coast. Recently, Morton sold his half of the chain for $410 million, although
he retained rights to the Hard Rock Hotel in Vegas and his famous Morton's
restaurant in West Hollywood. In late 2006, it was announced that the Seminole
Tribe of Florida was buying the Hard Rock chain of restaurants and most
of their casinos.)
Getting there: To reach the West Hollywood branch, from Hollywood & Vine, take Vine Street south (about half a mile) to Santa Monica Boulevard. Turn right (west) on Santa Monica Boulevard and go west (about three miles) to La Cienega Boulevard. Turn left (south) on La Cienega and go one mile south to Beverly Boulevard and the mall. Turn right (west) on Beverly, and the Hard Rock Cafe will be on your left side, at the corner of Beverly and San Vicente Blvds. Look for the car on the roof.
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