Hard Rock grand opening is a smash | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Hard Rock grand opening is a smash

by Sally J. Taylor

The christening crunch of a guitar and the blast of rock ‘n’ roll music on Saturday gave official status to the opening of the Hard Rock Cafe Lake Tahoe. The VIP grand opening, celebrating one of the newest additions to the internationally known Hard Rock family of cafes, garnered $15,000 for the Boys and Girls Club of Lake Tahoe.

Steve Conway, the executive director of the Boys and Girls Club received the check from the Hard Rock officials.

The Hard Rock Cafe Lake Tahoe, located inside Harveys Resort Hotel/Casino, actually opened quietly on June 30. Harveys began reaping benefits even before the official guitar christening and grand opening fanfare.

Gaming activity at the casino increased 36 percent since the cafe opened, according to Jim Rafferty, Harveys vice president of marketing.

Hard Rock Cafe Lake Tahoe has also been good for the Hard Rock chain, according to the company’s president.

During the first week of business, the Hard Rock Cafe and merchandise shop performed 187 percent above projections, said Hard Rock President and Chief Operating Officer Jim Berk.

“We don’t look at it like Lake Tahoe is lucky to have us, we consider it an honor that you’ll have us,” Berk said during an interview on the casino floor – a quieter spot away from the trademark rock ‘n’ roll music blaring inside the cafe. “We’ll make you proud,” he added as he fed quarters into a video poker machine.

The Lake Tahoe cafe is one of 19 new cafes the company plans to open this year, the most ever, Berk said. By the end of the year, Hard Rock will have 105 cafes worldwide. Other additions this year include Salt Lake City, which opened last week, Guam, San Diego, Rome, Amsterdam and Kona, Hawaii.

When looking for new Hard Rock Cafe sites, company officials look for cities that don’t compete with each other, Berk said, plus a dedicated community, tourism base and a spot where Hard Rock can do something different.

Inside a casino at Lake Tahoe fit those criteria.

In addition, Hard Rock and Harveys had a previous working partnership. Until last year, Harveys Casino Resorts held part ownership and the management contract for the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, which opened in 1995.

“(We knew Harveys) would be able to give us all the weird and special requests we wanted in a casino,” Berk said.

At the grand opening celebration of Hard Rock Lake Tahoe, partiers were entertained by the live music of Indigo Swing and a special performance of Tap Girls.

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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