Seattle’s Hard Rock Cafe Opens Today
The Hard Rock Seattle ::: Photo by Josh Lovseth
It’s been a gross oversight up to this point that Seattle has lacked a Hard Rock Cafe. Though the area has been home to significant parts of American musical history going back almost a century, only just now has the mega-chain made it’s way into our fair city. We knew they would make the right decision, and we’re glad it was sooner rather than later. And though there are Hard Rock Cafe’s around the world, from the rock photographs tinted in the Seahawks colors lining the stairwells to the exposed cedar ceilings, this location certainly has it’s own share of Seattle charm to set it apart. The previous occupant was a pawn shop, and they’ve even gone so far as to refurbish the old shop sign and re-purpose it as a marquee.
Just around the corner from the Showbox at the Market and the Moore, right on Pike Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues, the three level complex is definitely in the thick of the action. The first floor is the restaurant, the second floor acts as a large bar and 400-person venue when tables are moved out, and the third level is a rooftop bar. Memorabilia from many of the area’s significant rock acts line the walls: A Lakers jersey Andrew Wood often wore while performing with Mother Love Bone, a wall of Jimi Hendrix artifacts, and above us as we rise the stairs to the second floor, original Nirvana drummer Chad Channing’s drum kit. Grunge fans will not be disappointed with the offerings from that era. Most drool-worthy guitar in the place had to be the Eric Clapton twelve-string acoustic he used to play on George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass. Most unexpected was the inclusion of Crystal Skulls Christian Wargo’s electric guitar. A phone-aided tour of the artifacts, much like in a museum, offers more insight into the history of the items than a small plaque can provide.
The Seattle location is the fourth “Hard Rock Interactive” Cafe, which means they’ve threaded technology into the experience via touch screens located throughout the room. Just as you enter a door-size touchscreen greets you, the Rock Wall Solo, and each booth is equipped with a smaller screen. On these screens you can vote for songs to be played on the jukebox, explore the full inventory of Hard Rock’s expansive memorabilia collection, and learn the stories behind some of rock’s most notable moments. (The Las Vegas version of the Rock Wall is 18 feet wide and 4 feet high.) Hard Rock has also installed the first live version I’ve ever seen of Microsoft’s Surface on one of the larger tables right inside the door, allowing for all sorts of other playful bar gaming with your friends. Should you be lucky enough to snag that table that is.
The second floor is a wide open bar space, with floor to ceiling windows on one wall that offered just the right amount of light on the sunny afternoon we walked through. With a stage on the opposite wall, the room easily converts to a live venue where 250 can sit, or 400 can stand (think Chop Suey-sized). Talent booker Amy Bauer has plans for making that stage an active one, outlining a recurring all-ages Sunday afternoon spot and a monthly residency set for Tuesday nights to start in April. Booking national touring acts is also of interest, much as they do at many of the other locations, so don’t be surprised to find a band you want to see playing our Hard Rock stage.
Starting today February 10th, the Hard Rock Cafe located at 116 Pike Street, will be open from 11am to 11pm daily. The menu Happy hour is 3-6pm and 8-10pm. In April the rooftop deck will be open, but no happy hour happens up there. As Bauer put it, “this place sells itself.” With a direct look at a ferry crossing Puget Sound behind the Pike Place Market sign, it’s hard to argue. On that roof, every hour probably feels a happy hour.
Hard Rock CIO Joe Tenczar demonstrating the the features of “Hard Rock Interactive” ::: Photo by Josh Lovseth
The Roof Deck Bar ::: Photo by Josh Lovseth