Hard Rock Cafe to open in spring, calling artists for design

Benjamin S. Brasch
Erik Hill

A Hard Rock Cafe will be the next big restaurant to open in Anchorage. The Florida-based chain will open its music-themed eatery in late spring, according Scott Brokaw, the restaurant's general manager.

The 13,600-square-foot restaurant will open in the former location of Rumrunners Old Towne Bar, at Fourth Avenue and E Street downtown. It can seat 275 people, according to the company. The company will begin remodelling the building in January 2014, he said.

Brokaw said the menu, while rock 'n' roll-themed, will include "classic Alaskan entrees" and a "local burger."

The first Hard Rock Cafe opened in London in 1971. The company has since opened 138 cafes in 54 countries, according to the statement.

While each cafe is different, Brokaw said, they all have signed guitars hung on the walls, rock legends' jumpsuits in glass cases and pictures of music's most iconic faces strewn about the restaurant.

Brokaw said he has managed Hard Rock Cafes in San Diego and Los Angeles, Calif., and is excited to open the first one in Alaska.

The restaurant will be owned by Hard Rock Cafe International, Inc., not a franchisee, he said. Since 2007, Hard Rock International has been owned by the Seminole Tribe of Florida, based in Orlando.

Brokaw said the company considers Alaska unique enough that it is soliciting local artists to submit designs for a Hard Rock Anchorage t-shirt and pin. The deadline for submissions is Dec. 6. Details are available on the Hard Rock Anchorage Facebook page.

Hard Rock isn't the only national chain to plant roots in Anchorage this year.

Pita Pit, Buffalo Wild Wings and The Rock Wood Fired Pizza & Spirits have already opened this year, said Bill Popp, president of the Anchorage Economic Development Corp. Texas Roadhouse announced it will open a store in the Tikhatnu Commons shopping mall on Feb. 10.

Popp said Anchorage is a retail hot spot because the city has a high median household income of around $72,000 a year.

He said national restaurant chains see a competitor moving into a new location, and wonder what they are missing out on, which normally leads to a three-year spurt of growth.

In addition to the national chains, at least 15 locally owned restaurants have opened in Anchorage in the past year, Popp said.

"We love our eating," he said. "We're foodies."

Popp predicted that Anchorage will see a slowdown of new restaurants opening in about a year.

Reach Benjamin Brasch at bbrasch@adn.com or 257-4349. Twitter: twitter.com/ben_brasch