10 Reasons Not To Visit Hard Rock Cafe Locations

Six months before lockdown, I’d noticed the building of a new Hard Rock Cafe in Kathmandu being constructed. Fortunately, or unfortunately (for some), this work has been put to a halt due to the global pandemic. Let me tell you all as readers; I could not be more ecstatic at this pause in development. Yes, arguably, it may generate some jobs and be a lively addition to the Durbar Marg area, but from my perspective, it’s just not worth the hype.

Speaking from my 25 years on this planet, I’ve dined and drunk at my Hard Rock Cafe locations around the world. I’ve not dined at everyone, yet at least over 18 or so Hard Rock’s around the world. It wasn’t until I hit my late teenage years that I came to the point of frustration. It came to my senses that there is a way better plethora of food out there. Hard Rock Cafe’s are just selling you experience, and here are my reasons for not visiting:

1. Expensive for What it Is

The typical type of food you get served is American ‘sports bar’ type Esque food around the world. Sometimes the menu changes slightly for its quirks in the country it is in. However, to be honest, not that much. You could be paying on average with drinks a good $30-$35 per person for sports bar type food, which includes starters, mains, and drinks. Then you have a service charge and VAT to comply with. 

No, you’re not paying for a Michelin star meal, but for the quality of food, you can get way cheaper elsewhere, especially if you’re traveling. If you’re a budget traveler, this is not the place to dine at. I’d suggest you get chatting to some locals or carry out research. 

2. Time Spent

Often these cafes are in buzzing hotspots in the city, which means tourists and workers want to dine there. If not in the city, then in theme parks or shopping malls. Which means it can take some time to get in to dine there. I recall visiting one in Hyde Park in London a few times, they’ve given me a pager as it’s been that busy, to wait for a table. Once a table becomes free, they buzz you, and then you enter.

While dining the service is ridiculously quick and they try to rush you bringing out your food. Likewise asking if you’re finished or generating more orders. From the moment you sit down, it’s obvious they want you in and out due to the high turnover of tables. The service screams money, money, money. 

3. Memorabilia isn’t always that spectacular

Hard Rock Cafes claim they are a type of culture showcasing many types of memorabilia from Rock legends. While from the Hard Rock Hotel/Casino to other destinations around the world you can discover Elvis, Beatles, Bruce Springsteen, Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, and many more rock memorabilia. 

There are also restaurants/cafes where you will find memorabilia scattered about from Shakira, Pink, Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Nicki Minaj, and many more. While I don’t have a problem with these artists, they certainly aren’t ‘rock’. I feel this type of memorabilia goes against the grain of the companies vision and in some low key destinations they’ve just filled up space with any other non-rock music merch. 

4. Buying into an Americanised Rock Culture

 Ok, so the founders are American and it clearly reflects that. As the amount of memorabilia is predominately American focused, similarly the music played in the franchises. Likewise, even the bands that perform tend to stick to classic American rock covers. Personally, as a Brit, I don’t believe rock is just down to one nationality. Many different nationalities have unique versions and great local rock music. 

My personal opinion is that if you visit a hard rock cafe in another country and the staff is mainly of that nationality, then the music should be played should be local rock music. The artists that perform should be playing their own music, not just engaging with covers. Hard Rock Cafes should be a way to promote local rock music culture. 

5. Loud Can barely hear others in your company

As much as I like to dine on my own, many Hard Rock Cafes I’ve visited in the company of others. Trust me, most places I find it’s not a destination to have a healthy conversation, as the music is blaring from the speakers. I’ve had many waiters/waitresses come to serve me and I’ve had to shout to order my food. 

6. Drinks are watered down/expensive

Hard Rock Cafe likes to promote and flash their fancy cocktails. Sometimes their long island ice tea, Purple Haze, Sangria, and their cocktails named after famous rock songs. While this might sound spectacular and fancy, a lot of them are filled with ice and can cost a good $8-$12. 

7. Fast-paced

This comes back to the point of time spent. Staff lead you to your seats as if they’re doing a 100m sprint at the Olympics. Then when you are sat down servers constantly whiz past you with food to tables. All of this fast service embodies the fast food it stands for but it also reinforces the time you spend there. I love to have a good sit down relaxing me and savor the taste of my food. When there, I feel that they want you to eat as quickly as possible to get more money in.

8. Tacky and Overhyped 

While many employees across Hard Rock all over the world, may well enjoy rock music I feel some have been trained to act like die-hard rock fans. I’ve witnessed many employees of other nationalities try to heavily put on fake American accents. Previously, I’ve dined in Egypt at Sharm El Sheikh or Tenerife hearing natives say ‘awesome’, ‘y’all’, wicked, and many other types of American slang. It just sounds like they’re trying too hard! 

9.Want to Milk Money Out of You

I’m sounding a bit of a cheapskate here, but I’m not. Hard Rock Cafes are all about the ‘experience’. Trust me, I can assure you, it’s not just about dining at the cafe, they will try their best to lure you into their store following the meal. At Hard rock, they will provide you with discount coupons when you have their meals to visit the store. Similarly, they also sell drinks and charge extra to convince you to buy one of their merchandised glasses.

10. Service varies at Hard Rock Cafe Locations

I’ve visited some Hard Rock Cafe locations like in Japan and USA, which had phenomenal service. The servers were polite and accommodating. Then in places like Egypt, London, Malta, Edinburgh, and a few others, I’ve experienced some bad attitudes and crap service.

Go ahead, after this article I dare you to visit one or a few Hard Rock Cafe locations. You will see what I mean doing this. It’s not like traveling and trying every Mcdonalds, as that is far cheaper than exploring Hard Rock Cafe locations. In my opinion, it’s better to try the local cuisine than waste your money on this overhyped experience. 


Extracts of Alex

Navigating Nepal and the World

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