Hard Rock Cafe
The first Hard Rock Cafe opened on June 14, 1971 at Hyde Park, Mayfair, London, under the ownership of two Americans, Isaac Tigrett and Peter Morton. Hard Rock initially had an eclectic decor, but it later started to display memorabilia.
In 1978, a second location was opened in Toronto, Canada. The chain began to expand worldwide in 1982 with locations in (among others) Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Paris, and Berlin.
Hard Rock Cafe locations in the United States vary from smaller, more tourist driven markets (Biloxi, Pigeon Forge, Key West, etc.) to large metropolises (Houston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, New York City, Chicago, Boston, Washington, D.C., etc.). Hard Rock Cafe typically does not franchise cafe locations in the United States. All US cafes are corporate owned and operated, except for cafes in Tampa and the Four Winds New Buffalo casino.
However, in the transition of the Las Vegas Hard Rock Hotel property originally owned and then later sold to Rank by founder Peter Morton, Morton retained hotel naming rights west of the Mississippi. When Morton sold his Las Vegas Hard Rock Hotel to the Morgans Hotel Group, he also sold those naming rights, which then gave rise to two US franchised hotels (without cafes) in Albuquerque and Tulsa. The Albuquerque hotel no longer pays for the Hard Rock rights and reverted to its former name in June 2013. Additional casino hotels franchised from Morgan’s were subsequently opened in Sioux City and Vancouver.
In 1990, The Rank Group, a London-based leisure company, acquired Mecca Leisure Group and continued expansion of the concept in its geographic territory. Rank went on to purchase Hard Rock America from Peter Morton as well as Hard Rock Canada from Nick Bitove Berita Nasional.
After the completion of these acquisitions, Rank gained worldwide control of the brand. In March 2007, the Seminole Tribe of Florida acquired Hard Rock Cafe International, Inc. and other related entities from Rank for US$965 million.
In 2008, anonymous members of the wait staff criticized the business because of its practice of paying them less than half the official minimum wage in the UK, with the business allocating tips to staff to bring their salaries within the law. Most customers, it was argued, do not realize that they are subsidizing a low wage when they give the tip