With the Bistro Group backing its performance, Hard Rock Café Manila is back – and with a vengeance
Hang on to your socks, coz they’re about to be rocked off. The world’s well-loved, rock-and-roll resto, Hard Rock Café, has reopened its doors in Manila. And this time around, the brand is committed to a more fierce, in-your-face kind of experience.
The concept chain first opened in the metro in the mid-1990s. While it enjoyed its share of success, backed by the solid name of Hard Rock International, the franchise to a Singaporean-based partner saw its last gig in 2017. It saddened me that the world-renowned entertainment and dining venue closed its doors in Manila, but, thankfully, the closure proved temporary.
With the Bistro Group backing the brand this side of Southeast Asia, Hard Rock Café is set to take center stage once more in the Manila dining scene – and those of us who like our food and booze with more than a dash of rock-and-roll couldn’t be happier.
Back with a vengeance
Since it’s relaunch in December 2018, audiences have been enthralled by Hard Rock Manila’s current tour. It’s no surprise, as the Bistro Group, the same restaurant moguls that brought big names like TGIFriday’s, Denny’s, and most recently, Red Lobster to the Philippines, is no stranger to success in the industry.
“We are using the strength and DNA of the Bistro Group, which is all about operational excellence in the restaurant – in our food, quality products, our service and staff, and the ambiance,” shares Rommel Turbanos, VP of the Bistro Group. “These are all contributory factors that will lead to the continued success of this brand. That, and we invested heavily in the sound system of the place,” Turbanos adds.
Bands, booze, and belly-busters
That no cost was spared in the establishment’s sound system is certainly plain to hear. The tunes come through big and bold, yet with the crispness and cleanness that audiophiles look for in a live music venue. I was at once impressed by the fact that Ice Bucket, the Queen-tribute band on stage the night we stopped by, was loud enough to get the adrenaline coursing through my veins, without making my ears bleed. Now that’s a hallmark of a topnotch sound system, indeed.
Of course, given that the Philippines is rich in musical talent, guests of the café can expect nothing less than high-voltage entertainment, seven days of the week. “It’s amazing how much talent we have in the Philippines – and that’s a big difference between the Hard Rock here and the ones in other places in the world. That is why we can have bands every night and have different genres,” Turbanos notes.
As for eats, Hard Rock Café Manila does not disappoint. Enjoy the music with the café’s signature specialty burgers, such as the succulent-bordering-on-decadent Java Lava Burger, or the Smokehouse Trio platter of delectable chicken, ribs, and brisket. Of course, being an ale girl, I would recommend an ice cold brew or two to wash these down with. But, if you’re a sweet spirits kind of person, Hard Rock Café offers an array of cocktails and mixed drinks, as well.
Ambiance with attitude
Rounding of the Hard Rock Café adventure, in Manila and elsewhere, is the brand’s iconic merchandise. From classic tees and hoodies to plushies, pullovers, and commemorative pins, the merch shop is integral to the café’s overall vibe – which is in itself a visual treat, showcasing rock-and roll art and memorabilia. Keep an eye out for items that are unique to Manila, which “collectors from Japan, and as far as Russia, have flown in to buy,” Turbanos points out.
So, as the Carole King song (which inevitably became identified as the brand’s slogan/jingle) goes, “come to the Hard Rock Café…I hope you can find your way to the Hard Rock Café,” for your fix of all things rock-and-roll – and then some.
Words by Angie Duarte
Photos by Andie Syyap
Hard Rock Café Manila is open Sunday to Thursday (11am to 12 am) and Friday to Saturday (11am – 1 am). It is located on Level 2, S Maison at Conrad, Pasay City (telephone no. (02)990 9809). For more information on Hard Rock International, visit www.hardrock.com. @hardrockcafemanila, #hardrockcafemanila