There are 149 stores in 53 countries worldwide with Hard Rock Cafe Diagon Alley Shirt. If you come to one of the Hard Rock cafés, you will be guaranteed to be overwhelmed by the prevailing atmosphere. For exactly 40 years, the term Hard Rock Café has been synonymous with entertainment, good food, first-class music and entertainment. Two Americans have opened the first café of its kind and this year the 40th birthday is celebrated everywhere. The chain is known for its unique music collection. The decorations that are in the Hard Rock cafés are either purchased as exhibits or sponsored by the various artists. In each of the cafés you will find elaborate stage outfits or signed musical instruments or even gold records. Each Hard Rock Café has a gift shop. Here you can shop to your heart’s content. The familiar T-shirts with the unmistakable logo are sought after. From the coffee cup to the lapel pins, everything is available in the shops.
The first Hard Rock Café opened in London on 14 June 1971. The creators of the legendary cafes are the Americans Isaac Tigrett and Peter Morton. In this first hard rock café, world-class musicians ran. And this was also the beginning of the legendary collection of exhibits. Every star who is wrong in it left something personal as a reminder. For example, in the London café is an original signed guitar by Eric Clepton. In a New York café you will find original stage suits of the Beatles. There are now 64,000 collectibles owned by The Hard Rock Cafes. In 1982, the two founders began opening more Hard Rock cafes. First in America, in Canada and finally the cafes conquered Europe. No matter where the café is, in all the menu is the same. At Hard Rock Café, all guests are welcome, regardless of age, gender or nationality.
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The territory of Chief Billie reaches as far as Germany, as far as a corner house in Berlin. The chief of the Seminoles Indians is perched in a heavy leather chair. His skin is weather-tanned, his voice smoky, half of a ring finger is missing. “It was a crocodile,” he says. A few years ago, at home in Florida, in the swamps of the Everglades. He wanted to earn something by fighting for tourists. The fact that James Edward Billie, as he is called by his full name, is a businessman, master of an economic empire that spans the world and converts billions of dollars, is not to be seen in him.
In the house on Kurfürstendamm there is a Hard Rock Cafe. One in four in Germany and 154 worldwide. A small part of Billie’s empire. The restaurants do not belong to financial investors or a large corporation. They belong to the chief and his Native American people from North America. In 2006, they bought the company for 965 million dollars, from the fortune they made with a giant bingo hall in Florida. Billie’s visit to Berlin is an exploration trip. He is looking for a location to expand in the capital. But this is not just about a new branch. It is about the future of his empire. Some people say his empire has lost power. Brand experts believe the name Hard Rock Cafe no longer shines. Billie has a mission: he wants to prove them the opposite.
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But not with another cafe. The Seminoles want to open a hotel in Berlin. A hard rock hotel. In the style of the restaurants, with collectibles from the history of music and Elvis sounds in the lobby. It would be the first in Germany. The site has not yet been found. “We are thinking of another location on Kurfürstendamm or one near Checkpoint Charlie,” Billie tells Die Welt. Both places, the old West Berlin boulevard and the former GDR border crossing, meet its most important criterion: “The address must be exclusive.” That’s always been the case. Times Square in New York, St. Mark’s Square in Venice, Grand Place in Brussels. In London, the Hard Rock Cafe is located near Buckingham Palace, in Paris, not far from the Louvre. Chief Billie doesn’t do half things. He loves the noble and expensive places around the globe.
From Orlando, his empire aspires in all directions: as far as Rome and Tokyo, down to Johannesburg and north to Stockholm. It also includes remote corners, the Caribbean island of Aruba and the Fiji Islands such as Guatemala and Paraguay, Kazakhstan and the Kingdom of Bahrain. In addition to the 154 restaurants, there are 21 hotels and ten casinos, in 64 countries, on all continents. In Germany there are restaurants in Hamburg, Cologne, Munich and Berlin. 154 restaurants, and yet it doesn’t matter what food is, at least not only. The burgers, sandwiches and pork ribs are a side issue. In a Hard Rock Cafe, bigger things count. It’s about successes, legends and men who made history. To John Lennon, whose nickel glasses can be seen in the London branch. To Elvis Presley, who in 1968 gave new impetus to his fading career through a celebrated TV appearance – with a Gibson Super 400 guitar that now hangs in Memphis, the city where Elvis died. In Berlin it is about the beat steaks who sent a guitar from their first video.
It all started with Eric Clapton: in 1979, he had his Fender Lead II affitted at London’s Hard Rock Cafe to mark his favourite spot. Today, more than 70,000 exhibits from rock history are exhibited in the restaurants worldwide. It is the largest collection on the planet. It makes the Hard Rock Cafes unique. Billie rules over a global cult chain. But “cult” is often a temporary award, and the great time of the Hard Rock Cafes, the dazzling era, could end. Some even say that it is already over.
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Or who in Germany still wears the T-shirts with the logo of the chain? Brown letters in front of a mustard-yellow circle, including the name of the place from which the top originates: this was once the world globetrotter’s fabric-made trophy. Proof of how far the wearer had made it. “Hard Rock Cafe Ho Chi Minh City”. “Hard Rock Cafe Honolulu”. The lettering heralded a life as a cosmopolitan. This made it look like, in the past, in the 80s and 90s, when there were no low-cost airlines, no Google Maps. Today, it doesn’t seem quite worldly to walk through Berlin, Hamburg or Munich with “Ho Chi Minh City”. Has Billie’s brand faded, like the cotton shirt after many washings?
The myth is over,” says Karsten Kilian, brand expert and professor at Würzburg-Schweinfurt University of Applied Sciences. “The Hard Rock Cafes find it hard to preserve the magic of yesteryear.” They had become museum-like: thanks to their exhibits, they were still attractive, but at the same time frozen. “The wow effect is gone.” Chief Billie had to come up with something to revive the brand. “The brand doesn’t have it easy, it has to fight,” says Klaus-Dieter Koch, founder of management consultancy BrandTrust. The idea behind the Hard Rock Cafes is ingenious, but it’s getting less and less.
On the face of it, the concept is simple. Meat and rock ‘n’ roll. The fusion of food and music. But that’s not all. A Hard Rock Cafe makes a promise: Those who sit here at the table, under an old leather jacket by Stones guitarist Keith Richards (Malta) or a Hohner-Marine-Band-Mundharmonika by Bob Dylan (Atlanta), comes closer to his idol – he feeds with him, so to speak. “The restaurants suggest that they reduce the distance between fans and stars,” Koch says. “Bridging function” is what he calls it. A simple psychological trick. But one that could soon stop working. According to the brand expert, people today find other ways to their stars, digital ways. Facebook posts and Twitter messages. “Social networks make direct exchange with celebrities possible,” says Koch – they perform the “bridging function” better, at least for younger people. Younger people also hear less rock ‘n’ roll today – the big theme of the brand no longer pulls the masses along. “The group that appeals to them has narrowed down,” Koch says: to white older men with a penchant for nostalgia.
Hard Rock Cafe, a brand that has exceeded its zenith – Chief Billie finds this absurd. He puts his forehead in wrinkles. “The chain has lost none of its radiance,” he says on his leather throne, in front of an oversized silver company logo that shines in the glow of the ceiling lamps, as if to confirm the statement. The man sitting next to Billie tries to pay for it. The company’s sales have grown steadily, says Chief Executive Hamish Dodds, who is responsible for the operational business. In 2013, it was 3.5 billion dollars, and in 2014 it was 3.9 billion dollars. A brand in decline? “On the contrary.” Thirteen new Hard Rock cafes will open worldwide next year. Still, restaurants reach the limits of growth, according to Dodds. That is why the brand is now expanding further sources of revenue. “Casinos and hotels, that’s what our new focus is on.” The company is currently expanding – and not just with the help of new establishments. The change goes deeper, goes to the core of the brand, goes to its soul: it also meets the music. “We’re no longer limited to rock ‘n’ roll,” Dodds says. The Hard Rock Cafes opened up to other directions. For Latin American rhythms, pop songs from China – and German artists. The CEO wants to expand the target group with Hard Rock Cafe Diagon Alley Shirt. But as much as changes in the hard rock realm – one thing is to remain largely as it is: the food. Fast food chains such as McDonald’s and Burger King now offer vegetarian menus. Billie’s restaurants also have healthy and light things on the menu, but that’s not for him. “I want meat, medium rare,” he says, “I want meat.” English cooked, inside still raw.