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Vegas Weekend Day 2

Posted on 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.

Score!

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

Disappointment.

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...

Foxwoods

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.

Sigh.

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.

   

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