Hard Rock Cafe eyes former Rumrunner's bar in Anchorage

Nathaniel Herz

The Hard Rock Café has applied for a liquor license at the site of the former Rumrunner's Old Towne Bar on E Street, presaging a potential move to Anchorage's downtown by the international restaurant and bar chain.

Bruce Burnett, who currently operates the Bear Paw restaurant in the same space, says he's in negotiations with Hard Rock, and a representative of the company is due to visit Anchorage in September.

A deal, however, is not guaranteed.

"It looks positive," Burnett said. But, he added: "It never ends until the fat lady sings. And it's a long way 'til she's singing, in my book."

The Hard Rock chain started in London in 1971. A pair of "shaggy-haired Americans," Isaac Tigrett and Peter Morton, "just wanted to find a good American burger while living in London," according to the chain's website.

They then opened their first restaurant, with a six-month lease, in an old Rolls-Royce car dealership, and the chain has since expanded to more than 100 locations.

In Anchorage, design details haven't been settled on, according to Burnett, but plans call for the restaurant to use two floors.

Burnett said he had been negotiating with Hard Rock for the last eight months. He also owns a T.G.I. Fridays, on Tudor Road, but he said that Hard Rock had been far more difficult to deal with.

"I thought we'd be at this point three, four months ago," he said.

Burnett said he opened the Bear Paw in the interim to preserve the liquor license from Rumrunner's, which would have been forfeited were it not put to use by the end of the year.

Plus, he added, "the tourists need an option besides a hot dog."

Reach Nathaniel Herz at nherz@adn.com or 257-4311.