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Vegas Weekend Day 2

Posted on Saturday, September 5th, 2009

Dave!Today was filled with surprises, and all in a good way... for once.

I started out kind of early, because I wanted to head back down the strip and see my friends off before they left to the airport. As we were wrapping things up, they asked me if I was going to the Grand Opening of the Hard Rock Cafe, Las Vegas Strip Edition. I had read that the opening was being postponed, again, so this kind of caught me off guard. So after everybody was bundled up in a taxi, I walked down The Strip and confirmed that the new property was indeed opening up this morning at 11:00.


After waiting around for 35 minutes, I was the first one "officially" up the escalator to the new venue where I found...


This is an absolutely beautiful restaurant. Unfortunately, it's a pretty shitty Hard Rock Cafe. And let me tell you why... it's the memorabilia. Or lack of memorabilia, to be more accurate.

From the very moment that Eric Clapton hung his guitar on the wall of the original Hard Rock in London, rock memorabilia has been an integral part of the Hard Rock "experience" for its visitors. When you walk through those doors and see the expanse of one-of-a-kind items, it's like a rock-n-roll museum you'd find in your dreams. For music-lovers, its perfect.

But not here. Not this time.

The memorabilia is so anemic that the place barely feels like a "Hard Rock" at all. It's sad, actually. As an example, here's the bar area. How much memorabilia do you see?

Las Vegas Hard Rock Cafe on The Vegas Strip

Uhhh... yeah... there's a few mannequins in the background. And what about here in the main dining room...

Las Vegas Hard Rock Cafe on The Vegas Strip

What is that... like SEVEN whole pieces and two televisions? Compare that to but one small corner of the Hard Rock Cafe in Biloxi's hotel and casino property...

Hrc Biloxi2

Or Lisbon, Portugal...

Hard Rock Cafe Lisbon

Or Foxwoods, Connecticut...


Or Memphis, Tennessee...

HRC Memphis

Or even the cafe they just closed in Salt Lake City...

Hard Rock Salt Lake

... Just to name a few. Now those... those are Hard Rock Cafes!! The memorabilia is so thick you're swimming in it. You have to visit again and again just to see it all. THAT'S WHAT A HARD ROCK CAFE IS ALL ABOUT!!

But this new cafe on The Vegas Strip? Almost nothing. In fact, there are entire sections of the restaurant which are practically devoted to nothing. Here's the upstairs bar...

Hard Rock Cafe on The Vegas Strip

And the mini "Hard Rock Live" stage...

Hard Rock Cafe on The Vegas Strip

And some kind of small VIP room also upstairs...

Hard Rock Cafe on The Vegas Strip

Occasional random pieces hidden away, but really nothing. NOTHING!! This is supposed to be a Hard Rock?!? The only thing that keeps the place from being a total failure is the staff, which is terrific. And also the sweet "Microsoft Surface" touch tables they've got scattered around the joint (like the one behind the curtain above). You sit down, and it's like a giant iPhone on steroids with its awesome multi-touch interface. Here I am looking at pins from various cafes...

Hard Rock Cafe on The Vegas Strip: Microsoft Surface

You can toss them around, rotate them, move them in and out, stack them... or even pinch and pull them to zoom in for a much, much closer look...

Hard Rock Cafe on The Vegas Strip: Microsoft Surface

Other toys include a memorabilia viewer for cafes around the globe which you pick out from an actual spinning globe. This is cool, because it's not like this cafe has much memorabilia to look at here...

Hard Rock Cafe on The Vegas Strip: Microsoft Surface

They even have distractions like puzzles, videos, and even a piano...

Hard Rock Cafe on The Vegas Strip: Microsoft Surface

Alas, it's by Microsoft, so you have to brace yourself for all the crashes and failures...

Hard Rock Cafe on The Vegas Strip: Microsoft Surface

Knowing what this cafe COULD HAVE BEEN almost makes me cry. All that wonderful space that COULD have been crammed with awesome memorabilia from the Hard Rock's extensive collection... wasted. I have no idea who is designing this shit, but somebody needs to stop them. Take the Hard Rock back to what it is at its core. Take it back to what makes it special. Take it back to what people want to see. Take it back to what makes me want to travel the globe and see them all. Take. It. Back.


After goofing around at the Hard Rock for a bit, I headed back to the hotel to meet up with the Official TequilaCon 2010 Planning Committee... Jenny, Vahid, and Brandon. The day kind of went like this...

Drinks. Accusations. Threats. Apologies. Sunglasses. Cigarette holders. News. Drinks. Slots. Slots. Drinks. Craps. Slots. Video Poker. Drinks. Drinks. Drinks. Drinks. Drinks. Slots. Dinner. OFFICIAL TEQUILACON BUSINESS...

TequilaCon Map

Then Walking. Goodnight Brandon. Slots. Drinks. Video Poker. Slots. Walgreens. And lastly, the Fremont Street Experience...

Fremont Street Experience!

Fremont Street Experience!

And there you have it. Just another boring day in Las Vegas, Nevada.

UPDATE: I had a long email conversation with somebody who basically asked "who are you to define what is or isn't a Hard Rock?" Which I thought was odd, because they're pretty much self-defining (as the photos I posted above will attest). But even setting that aside, just look at a description of the HRC Hurghada from the Hard Rock Cafe's own web site...

The cafe, while reflecting the charm and flavor of the local architecture, is still a Hard Rock through and through offering an extensive collection of incredible rock memorabilia...

So, even at the Hard Rock Cafe corporate offices, the abundance of memorabilia is looked upon as a defining trait of a good cafe. If I'm seen as "defining" a cafe, I'm only doing so from the definition provided by the organization themselves.


  1. Hilly says:

    It’s always seemed so strange to me just how much “cheese” runs through Vegas however at the same time, they seem to keep the restaurants pretty sleek and simple. I wonder if the Hard Rock Cafe was trying to keep in line with the Vegas restaurant feel? It seems odd though that they wouldn’t do it up right in Vegas of all places.

  2. Dave2 says:

    I dunno… it seems to be the trend, because each new cafe seems to be more sparse than the last (Dallas was anemic too). If this trend continues, there won’t be any memorabilia at all pretty soon.

  3. i never got the fascination people have with hard rock cafes until just now, with this post. your passion for them sort of unlocked some mystery for me. thanks.

    i might print this and mail it to the hard rock people. they need to know to take it back, bitches!

    who played craps and how did they do?

    i’ll say it again…is pittsburgh on that list of locations?

  4. Dave2 says:

    Jenny and I played craps. We both lost money, but I lost less because when Jenny was shooting, I was making serious bank. She’s pretty lucky with them there bones!

    And, speaking of Jenny, are you trying to get me killed by revealing top secret information?!? 🙂

  5. Iron Fist says:

    Ah yes, I greatly enjoyed sampling all those slots with you, my friend.

  6. Dave2 says:

    When are we opening our own casino?!?

  7. Sybil Law says:

    How sad is it that I tried to figure out where the next TequilaCon is from the map?! Haha – couldn’t tell, though – all I made out was North – and I am stumped.
    Make it close to meeee! 🙂
    Hard Rock Cafe – I remember my first tee shirt from the one in Chicago – I was like, 10. Loved it. It’s a shame they’re getting so spartan with the new places.

  8. Dave2 says:

    You can’t really read too much into that map. I wanted Tulsa in Oklahoma because there’s a new Hard Rock Hotel & Casino there I haven’t been to. When the photo was taken, they were trying to find Tulsa on the map. Ultimately, a lot of cities were suggested in all kinds of places… some of which would probably never happen. The map was just a way for us to keep track of cities and come up with a “short list” for Jenny.

    Now that there’s a short list, a bunch of research needs to happen so Jenny can pick the next host city. The final final decision is months away yet, because a lot of stuff has to be looked into so that TequilaCon 2010 is assured as being as awesome as past TequilaCons!

  9. claire says:

    So no TequilaCon at the Las Vegas Hard Rock. Check.

    Have you been to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in OH? It was pretty cool, though I can see the allure of being able to eat dinner while checking gear out on the walls.

  10. Dave2 says:

    I have been to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame… it was interesting (especially the building) but I honestly feel that a really good Hard Rock Cafe has more “substance” when it comes to memorabilia. Maybe my expectations were too high, but I just thought the museum didn’t have much going for it.

  11. Jacki says:

    When entering a Hard Rock Cafe, if your eyes widen and your mouth opens – you know it was good. That new one wasn’t even making me squint to see more detail in the photo! If some cafe’s close – what happens to that memorabilia? Why can’t it be shipped to the new one’s?

  12. martymankins says:

    You bring up a great point about the lack of the Hard Rock Cafe memorabilia that graces the walls and ceilings in these new HRC’s.

    Given the closure of the Salt Lake HRC, you would think they could have taken at least some or most of that memorabilia and moved it to the new Vegas location.

    More curious is to know why, at opening day, was that new HRC so empty. And did they have a band scheduled to play that mini stage.

    I do like how drinking was an integral part of the TC 2010 pre-planning stages.

  13. Iron Fist says:

    Interestingly, I was watching the news in my hotel room this morning before I checked out and saw that one of Michael Jackson’s sequined gloves had been auctioned off, with the buyer being the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas.

  14. Dave2 says:

    The Hard Rock Hotel is a licensed property, and is owned and operated completely independently of the Hard Rock organization… sounds like THEY continue to understand what it means to be a “Hard Rock” property, even if the official corporation has forgotten.

  15. Blimey, that HRC although devoid of memorabilia, is certainly a lot bigger than the last two I went to. Mind you, that isn’t saying much because my local Phoenix HRC kinda sucks in every way imaginable. I’m still surprised they haven’t closed that one.

  16. whall says:

    The pic of your hands on the map reminds me eerily of a ouija board. Is THAT how you guys pick?!?!?!

  17. The Momshell says:

    Touch tables… So cool!

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