The Honest Truth: How the Hard Rock Cafe was started by two pals who just wanted a burger

Hard Rock Cafe (Hard Rock International)
Hard Rock Cafe (Hard Rock International)

ONE of the most popular restaurant chains in the world, Hard Rock Cafe marks 20 years since the opening of its first Scotland branch, in Edinburgh, this Wednesday.

Nick Chiverton, the cafe’s general manager in Edinburgh, told Murray Scougall the Honest Truth about the HRC


How did HRC begin – who set it up and why?

Hard Rock Cafe was started by two Americans, Isaac Tigrett and Peter Morton, who were living in London and couldn’t find a good American burger in the city.

Their solution was creating their own American-style diner in an old Rolls Royce dealership, which opened on June 14, 1971.

The new spot was called Hard Rock Cafe and the rest is history. To this day, the cafe still exists in its original location on Old Park Lane in London.

Was there always music memorabilia in the restaurants?

Hard Rock’s music memorabilia collection began in 1979 when Eric Clapton, a regular at the London restaurant, donated his red Fender Leader II guitar.

He asked the staff to hang the guitar over his usual seat, which then prompted Pete Townshend of The Who to give the staff one of his guitars to hang with a note saying: “Mine’s as good as his! Love, Pete.”

From the beginning, music has been synonymous with Hard Rock – there are now over 81,000 pieces of memorabilia and counting in Hard Rock’s collection.

Nick Chiverton

How does HRC go about gathering the memorabilia? Do artists donate or is someone in charge of sourcing the items?

Many artists volunteer to donate items to the cafes themselves.

Hard Rock has full-time staff who oversee all aspects of the memorabilia collection – they’re involved in researching and procuring the items, installing feature pieces in the cafes and redistributing memorabilia to all cafes worldwide.

In addition to artist donations, Hard Rock also purchases select pieces of memorabilia through reputable auction houses worldwide.

How does Hard Rock Cafe decide which cities are ideal to open a restaurant in?

There are 180 Hard Rock Cafes across the world, which are visited by more than 79 million guests each year.

Hard Rock conducts extensive research on consumer trends, competitive restaurants, as well as the local music and food culture in any market where the brand is exploring.

With cafes in major cities and exotic locations, you never know where the next restaurant will pop up.

What is special about HRC Edinburgh?

Hard Rock Cafe Edinburgh is located on George Street, just a short distance from the world-famous Edinburgh Castle, and it was the first HRC to open in Scotland.

The cafe is a vibrant and fun place to hang out and offers guests a menu featuring house-made entrees prepared with a touch of local flavours, as well as burgers, salads and hand-crafted cocktails.

What are the standout memorabilia items in HRC Edinburgh?

We have a one-of-a-kind collection of memorabilia on display, including favourites like Ringo Starr’s leather jacket and a guitar from The Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Which famous stars have visited the Edinburgh restaurant?

Over the years, Hard Rock Cafe Edinburgh has been known to attract various celebrity diners and very important guests, including Jessie J, Billy Connolly and Jimmy Carr, to name a few. We also regularly host live music events with performances from artists like Travis and KT Tunstall.

A Hard Rock Cafe has since opened in Glasgow. Is there friendly competition between the Edinburgh and Glasgow branches?

We’re very supportive of each other and happy to be part of the Hard Rock family!