Everyone has their favorite memory of Hard Rock Cafe.
For me it was organizing several events at the once iconic venue, something that I never thought of doing even in my wildest dreams.
If memory serves me right, I think I was still in college when I first heard about Hard Rock Cafe. It had been open for quite some time, but back then, there was no MRT yet ( I know, I’m Tito) and going to Makati was a two-hour ordeal by bus– even if traffic back then wasn’t as bad as today.
I could still remember their TVC jingle in my head (which was sung by Carole King I just found out), and believe it or not, Hard Rock was actually one of the reasons I wanted to work in Makati. I didn’t care what job it was, all I could think about was how I was going to spend my salary at Hard Rock.
For me Hard Rock was the place where rich people and yuppies spent their weeknights to drink and party and I thought being there was somehow a measure of success.
Well that didn’t happen.
I couldn’t exactly remember the first time I stepped inside their doors, but i do recall how I was in awe of the place–the stage, the memorabilias and the crowd–they were a lot older than I expected, but they did look rich and a lot of them were foreigners.
It would be the first of countless times I’ve been to Hard Rock, attending meetings, covering events and doing interviews–and as I mentioned, eventually organizing our own events at the venue.
Sadly, in the years that followed, the excitement I felt waned, as I witnessed how the place deteriorated–the service wasn’t as good, the food was becoming forgettable and the place was in need of a renovation–and with all the newer resto-bars opening all over the metro it truly became harder to rock the place.
Hard Rock Cafe Makati closed down in 2017, and for a while, it seemed like the end of an era.
Thankfully, the Bistro Group had other plans.
Last December, Hard Rock Cafe Manila was reborn as it opened its shiny new doors at the S Maison in Pasay City.
The 48-year-old brand is finally back, and in better hands with The Bistro Group as its exclusive franchisee in the country.
The new Hard Rock Cafe will span 653 square meters and offer 223 seats. The iconic Hard Rock Cafe branding will still be present: music memorabilia, live music, and American comfort food.
But instead of just seeing rock star memorabilia, the new resto seem to feature a more diverse collection, reflecting more genres. At the men’s room for example, there is a very instagrammable wall painting of John Lennon, but in the ladies room, its Lady Gaga.
According to Steve Yang, Hard Rock’s area vice president, Asia-Pacific Franchise Development & Operations, the Hard Rock brand has evolved into a “new, young, hipper version of what it was,” while maintaining its rock-’n’-roll roots.
Yang adds that their research revealed that millennials and younger people loved the original Hard Rock Cafe imagery: it evoked a sense of nostalgia. They ended up blending the old with the new, maintaining some of their older brand standards while incorporating new imagery.
“We still have the old Fender guitar design, ’cause people think that’s kind of cool,” says Yang. “But in terms of memorabilia on the wall, instead of just Elvis Presley, we also have Justin Bieber. We also have Lady Gaga.”
But it wont just be foreign artists who will be getting the spotlight. During the media dinner they hosted, local band Ice Bucket was on stage and they assured that Hard Rock Cafe will definitely be featuring local music.
The Bistro Group will also be incorporating some local flavor in the menu. “Before people wanted consistency, but now, it’s very different. There’s a localization aspect happening. If you go to Singapore, they have laksa on the menu or Hainanese chicken rice. In the Philippines, there’s going to be some localization. They’re going to be creating some local favorites as well,” Yang was quoted in an interview.
Hard Rock’s new menu will be handled by Josh Boutwood, the executive chef of the Bistro Group.
Serving good food is one of Hard Rock’s favorite gigs. So, get ready to sink your teeth into their signature items that include the Original Legendary Burger, Hickory Smoked ribs and even an Asian-inspired menu to make everyone twist and shout as the Manila branch opens. The extensive drinks selection also awaits guests- from margaritas, to signature favorites and Alternative Rock (alcohol-free) beverages – all available in collectible glassware.
We were able to sample a bit of the menu, and I must say I need to come back to taste more of the ribs, burgers, the jumbo combo and the pasta! I came in late so I wasn’t able to try everything out.
Groove not only to rock and roll but also to an anthology of music you love plus a showcase of various live musical performances! Get lost in its rock-and-roll memorabilia collection that adorn the café- from famous rock music icons, such as autographed guitars, world tour costumes, rare photos—purchased from auctions all over the world.
And before you leave, don’t miss the Rock Shop and grab some of the merchandise whic
h have gained quite a cult-like status- from classic tees, hoodies, caps to commemorative pins and everything else in between, so you can dress like a rock star!
HardRock Café Manila is open Sunday to Thursday (11am to 12 am) and Friday to Saturday (11am – 1 am). It is located on Level 2, S Maison at Conrad, Pasay City (telephone no. (02)990 9809). For more information on Hard Rock International, visit www.hardrock.com. @hardrockcafemanila, #hardrockcafemanila