diamond geezer

 Saturday, August 28, 2004

Famous places down the street where I work
The Hard Rock Cafe (150 Old Park Lane)

You can find Hard Rock Cafes all over the world, from Acapulco to Yokohama, but the very first Hard Rock Cafe opened right here in Piccadilly in 1971. Americans Isaac Tigrett and Peter Morton opened up a glorified burger restaurant in an old car showroom close to Hyde Park Corner, slowly covering the walls with rock 'n' roll ephemera. Londoners and tourists came flocking (burgers were kind of new back then) and by 1982 the restaurant was successful enough to be opening up in new locations back in the States. Now there are 100 HRCs worldwide, and the global theme-dining phenomenon has been copied by Planet Hollywood amongst others, but the original restaurant here still pulls in tourists in their droves. If you come down, prepare to queue.

Nextdoor to the cafe is the Hard Rock store, selling sweatshirts, t-shirts and stacks of other branded clothing to devotional visitors. There's a rock museum in the basement called The Vault which is essentially a shrine to the guitar. Come kneel before Jimi Hendrix's Flying V, see strings once plucked by a Sex Pistol and try to make out John Lennon's original scrawled lyrics to Imagine. There's nothing here that would challenge the musical sensibilities of a middle-aged Mid-west American (more Morrison than Morrissey). But the restaurant has good reviews, so if you fancy eating Hickory Bar-B-Que Chicken sitting beneath Tommy Lee from Motley Crue's drum kit then rock on down. As the restaurant website says it's "more fun than watching the hands move round Big Ben", and who am I to argue?

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