Hard Rock Caf Cairo
By Daniel Lanier
Finally it arrived! Thirty years after the Hard Rock Caf opened its first branch in London, just across from Buckingham Palace, it received its first guests in Cairo on May 3rd. For years, clever merchants at the Khan El-Khalili and elsewhere in Egypt have successfully sold imitation HRC Cairo t-shirts, for years the HRC branch in Sharm El-Sheikh has pulled in huge numbers of pleasure-seekers night after night, and for years the people have wondered: Why dont we have a Hard Rock Caf in Cairo?
Elton John Outfit
This question eventually has been answered by the arrival of the original. And what an original! Among all of the more than 100 HRCs around the globe, the Cairo branch has certainly one of the most impressive locations on the shore of the River Nile. The view is breathtaking. While sitting at one of the barstools next to the large windows and sipping your Daiquiri, you can cruisers and feluccas, the huge illuminated water fountain in the middle of the Nile all that topped only by the skyline of downtown Cairo, with bridges, the Cairo tower, hotels and other high-rises. The Hard Rock Caf Cairo is part of the lower level of the Le Meridien Cairo Hotel. The entrance is located between this elegant, curved 15-story building and its new extension, the Le Royal Meridien Nile Tower, not less than 41 stories high. The main dining area of this newest Hard Rock Caf has 205 seats while the bar seats 85. But, as we all know it, the Hard Rock Caf is more than just a restaurant, and that applies to its Cairo branch, too. The walls are paved with famous music memorabilia. Guitars of GunsnRoses, Red Hot Chili Peppers or Aerosmith, an Elton John stage suit, a shirt from Elvis Presley and many, many other pieces. The company Hard Rock Caf International Inc. owns more than 60,000 pieces of memorabilia worldwide, a collection that was touted by Andy Warhol as being the "Smithsonian of RocknRoll." Now, Cairo has its share of music history, too. The most interesting piece has less to do with rock music history, but it fits the wall and the atmosphere perfectly: an original 1957 American Classic Cadillac, formerly owned by Egypts President Nasser.
Elvis Preslry Shirt
Music videos blare from TV-sets in every corner and noisy pop and rock tunes are probably not exactly what Nasser thought of when he constructed a socialist-oriented Egypt, but to quote Bob Dylan, "the times they are a-changin " even on the banks of the river Nile. The times, yes, are changing, but not the Hard Rock Cafes marketing concept. The menu features its trademark American-style food, those classic burger platters, steak and chicken dishes, onion rings, fajitas and nachos, sandwiches and BBQ cutlets, which loyal fans from all over the world expect to order all over the world, in every single HRC branch, including beer, spirits and cocktails. In Cairo, the sandwiches start at LE 21 ($ 5), a burger platter comes for around LE 25 ($ 6) and ribeye steak costs at least LE 46 ($ 11). The price of bottle of local wine is LE 60 ($ 14).
Original Car of President Nasser of Egypt
The wait staff is attentive and friendly. They are trained not only to serve guests, but also to entertain their guests, who, with a little luck, can even see them dancing. The day I visited the Hard Rock Caf Cairo, on a hot, lazy and quiet afternoon, some guests surprised us with a spontaneous ballet, executing the classic hand motions to the music of the 70s hit, Y.M.C.A. by The Village People. The waiters and waitresses eagerly joined in, too. Al-hamdulillah, the restaurant is well air-conditioned. To retain such memories, guests may head directly to the HRC merchandise shop offering the usual selection of HRC logo t-shirts, hats, pins and jackets.
Ahmed El-Sheikh, one of the Managers
After midnight, the restaurant is transformed into a huge disco, which will, as Ahmed El-Sheikh, one of the managers, promised me, soon feature live bands.
Hard Rock Caf Cairo. Le Meridien Hotel Cairo, Corniche El-Nil, Garden City. Open from noon till around two or three after midnight. Telephone: +20-2-53 21 277. Fax: +20-2-53 21 289. E-Mail: HRCevents@menanet.net. Group and Special Events available. To all prices add 17 % service charge and sales tax. Minimum charge per person: LE 25 ($ 6).
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