Do the Twin Cities really need a new Hard Rock Cafe?

Categories: Fail
Hard_Rock_Cafe_Snowmobile_MPLS.jpg
eBay

For a good while now, the Hard Rock Cafe has been a dinosaur that isn't aware that it's already extinct. This summer, the international eatery chain will open a new location at the Mall of America, but the news was rightfully overshadowed by the 400 Bar moving there with the promise of actual rock on the menu. 

After the Hard Rock Cafe closed in the failing Block E development in 2011, it seemed to already be a bad fit in this area. Maybe it was just the location downtown, where it stuck out like a sore thumb with its gaudy neon guitar that jutted out across the street from First Avenue. The juxtaposition as you approached the club was almost comical: Overblown, oversized glossy neon against the matte black monolith. Sure, it will look less out of place in the mall, but what's the point of this place?

See Also: 400 Bar to open venue in Mall of America


I entered the downtown establishment only once, years ago, prior to Interpol's first pass through town in support of Turn On the Bright Lights. When I walked in to track friends down who were finishing up their meal, Interpol themselves were seated near the front door. They were chowing down on burgers and salads, and looked utterly ridiculous inside a place that ties itself into rock 'n' roll as much as possible. And therein lies the problem: How is it that seeing a rock band eating inside a Hard Rock Cafe looks silly?

Much of the problem lies in the fact that, aside from it just being outright odd to down some buffalo wings next to a glass case containing Jimmy Page's guitar, those wings and anything else you might want to eat just aren't very good. It's passable at best. I never actually ate at the one here, but my dining experiences in Toronto and Acapulco were both pretty bad. I ate at the one in Toronto on a family trip 20-plus years ago and I still remember it being one of the worst burgers I've ever consumed.

HRC_Mulad.jpg
Mulad / Flickr

The other problem is that the Hard Rock Cafe is woefully outdated. In the '80s and early '90s it was cool to collect swag from the different HRCs in each city you (or a relative) visited. Those T-shirts were everywhere. But like all fads, the luster eventually wore off and became passé -- a part of many peoples' youth that there is literally no reason to revisit, reignite or otherwise keep alive. The brand could use a facelift somehow, and entrenching at the Mall of America is going to do absolutely zero in terms of anyone seeing them differently.

Rock 'n' roll is supposed to at least seem dangerous, whether it actually is or not. It has always strived to seem edgy and vaguely frightening but the Hard Rock Cafe, whether they intended to or not, sterilized that notion a bit. As much as you might want to listen to something edgy and menacing on your way to dinner, you don't ever want your dinner to seem that way once you arrive. The whole concept should have been dead in the water before it ever morphed into an actual brick-and-mortar building.


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105 comments
jinphx
jinphx

I remember visiting my first HRC in New York City, January 1987. I thought it was completely cool as an 18 year old from Minnesota, where I had only been exposed to HRC via T-shirts. I thought "Ive finally made it to the big time!". At that time, like it or not, only the "top" tiered US cities got a HRC. I agree,by the time we got our HRC, it had been played out. It was/is no longer the destination it was and has certainly lost any draw for myself. That said I was really enthusiastc when we finally landed our HRC in Block E. MOA is the right place for it now not downtown.

jinphx
jinphx

I remember visiting my first HRC in New York City, January 1987.  I thought it was completely cool as an 18 year old from Minnesota, where I had only been exposed to HRC via T-shirts. I thought "Ive finally made it to the big time!".   At that time,  like it or not,  only the "top" tiered US cities got a HRC.  I agree,by the time we got our HRC, it had been played out.  It was/is no longer the destination it was and has certainly lost any draw for myself.  That said I was really enthusiastc when we finally landed our HRC in Block E.  MOA is the right place for it now  not downtown.

rellisburg
rellisburg

Love Hard Rock,never been to a bad one or had a bad experience at one. The staff at these places are the best never came across a rude employee, they are always in a very upbeat mood and do seem to enjoy their work plus i love to collect the pins. If that makes me uncool so be it. 

Rich Maddox
Rich Maddox

I have a huge hamburger/memorabilia boner over this.

Nik Papazois
Nik Papazois

I am much more psyched about the concept the 400 Club is going after - they are much more likely to see my business!

Mike Brain
Mike Brain

Meh meh meh. Would rather have an ESPN Zone.

tim.brackett
tim.brackett

There used to be a Hard Rock Cafe in Minneapolis? Is this where the idea for the Pedal Pub was hatched?

Kirk Bednarchuk
Kirk Bednarchuk

Horrible over priced drinks with no booze oh and the food blows, yeah bring it back!

Jake Helpdesk Olson
Jake Helpdesk Olson

....... overpriced, gimmeck. I'd rather a creative local person comes up with something and takes over whatever space is potentially going to be filled with a Hard Rock.

Jay Tyrrell
Jay Tyrrell

First place I ate at after Moving to mpls was the Old hard rock I got food poisoning

Yvonne Schram
Yvonne Schram

I'm sure it will do as well as Planet Hollywood did lol

Jeffery Gauss
Jeffery Gauss

I don't think they have ever done that in a city. Now my original opening pin from 2002 should be more valuable!

MNjoe
MNjoe topcommenter

It's so nice to stand at the upstairs bar at First Ave. nowadays and NOT see the crappy Hard Rock guitar polluting the view. The MOA is the perfect place for that kind of suburban-touristy crap.

Ray Anderson
Ray Anderson

It'll prob do good at the MOA since the only people that go there are tourists that fly in & fly out. As for the 400... Well that's a whole other story!

Eric Williams
Eric Williams

It's my one stop destination for hard rock, so yeah no question!

Mary-Louise Nash
Mary-Louise Nash

I've been to one once, but don't remember if it was Minneapolis or Indianapolis. Can you help me?

Alirox
Alirox topcommenter

City Pages will be all gushy and shit when "The Replacements" (quotes intended) play at the new 400 Bar at the Mall of America.

jakmen
jakmen

A company that has been privately held for 40 plus years, in 50 countries, doing sales in excess of the billions won't really care what anyone one this page has to say. No downtown Minneapolis was never the right fit for this themed restaurant, but the mall is. The restaurant downtown was there for 9 years and only walked away due to the current block owner letting them out of their lease, It wasn't under performing and the people who worked their made good money. This company has a very strong tie to the music industry, they work with some very large names on philanthropy endeavors and themselves have donated millions of their own dollars to charities worldwide. Why don't people know the Hard Rock still exists? Because it's not trendy and cool like talking crap on websites is. Love it or hate it they don't really care and will laugh all the way to the bank

Carrie Selden
Carrie Selden

No one cares. Over priced, underwhelmed. There's no place for them in a city of AMAZING divey and affordable food go tos, and fine dining genius.

Adam Slushoos
Adam Slushoos

it always sucked nobody liked it it was overpriced and it was for douchebags and only for people who THOUGHT they were cool, also their food sucked and it was an eyesore please don't bring it back unless you wanted to have it close again because nobody goes there

David Reinhart
David Reinhart

In a land that boasts an insane amount of local eateries and breweries, Hard Rock seems like the odd man out.

Shana Marie Smith
Shana Marie Smith

Would've rather seen The Odyssey or Planet Hollywood come back.

Truth_Teller_1
Truth_Teller_1 topcommenter

As I remember all fried food, or out of Sysco truck.   But considering the people who visit the MOA - they will probably go for it.

Mike Green
Mike Green

Hard Rock is a horrible restaurant. Pass

Julie Bastian
Julie Bastian

I didn't realize it had left! Was only in there once-too crowded and expensive!

Kari Wuornos Winger
Kari Wuornos Winger

Meh~Over rated and priced. I only go while traveling for a drink and photo opportunity.

Ben Knutson
Ben Knutson

Anne Castro, you literally couldn't put a restaurant closer to a Ruby Tuesdays and Applebee's. Also what's the difference between Bloomington and Eden Prarie?

Ben Knutson
Ben Knutson

It's actually a brilliant business decision. Probably one of the only places in the country where this concept can still thrive. It's a tourist restaurant. Never intended for locals. MOA is amongst the biggest tourist destinations in the country. If you know me, you know I won't be eating there, but I do see them doing significantly better business... The will have to compete with the 400 bar however...

Frances Remsen
Frances Remsen

MEH! And, WHY? Don't we have enough mediocre crap in the Twin Cities? At least it's at MOA, where the rest of the mediocre crap resides.

Lonesome Dave Engen
Lonesome Dave Engen

if it were back downtown i'd be excited (i was the first person in the one downtown) , but at the mall from hell...MEH...i will never get there and have to buy my pins on ebay $$$

Christopher Ray Hunnicutt
Christopher Ray Hunnicutt

Chris, the City Pages Minneapolis is, and has been for years, the Musical Metropolitan Entertainment Fox News of our fair city.

Justin Irvine
Justin Irvine

A different view is that it is not a "dinosaur" but a novelty that people still recognize and see as a piece of their young adulthood. MOA is a better place for this than block was.

MNjoe
MNjoe topcommenter

@jakmen Pretty cool if you want to look at one of Michael Jackson's gloves and eat a $12 cheeseburger.  It's not for me...but who am I to stand in the way of a boring suburbanite's entertainment?

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