As Vietnam becomes more cosmopolitan, international franchise restaurants have been entering the country in record numbers. It’s no surprise that the leading sub-sectors within this category are also the big American early arrivals, as global consumers have strong awareness of American cuisine. Among these key players is Hard Rock Cafe.
Despite the ruthless competition among foreign franchises entering Vietnam, Hard Rock Cafe has been a stable icon with its establishment since 2009. Now in 2019, the restaurant celebrates its 10th anniversary with continued success, noted almost always by both locals and visitors alike as the staple when it comes to an authentic American experience.
How did a foreign franchise like Hard Rock Cafe manage to introduce American classics – from juicy homemade burgers to rock ‘n’ roll – to Vietnam so effectively within these 10 years? Our team at Vietcetera sat down with Binh and Adam to congratulate as well as understand more about how they solidified their place in the industry.
Both the food and drinks here are so excellent that they leave us confused. Is Hard Rock Cafe a cafe with really good food, or a restaurant with really good drinks?
Despite our namesake, Hard Rock Cafe is an American restaurant that is experience-driven due to the exceptionally cozy, personal services offered here. Our signature dishes are mostly traditional American cuisine like the selection of Legendary Burgers as well as Mexican-infused items like the Hard Rock Nachos. The casual dining is accompanied by live music, and overall we’d like to create a lasting impression on customers beyond high quality food and drinks so that they can leave with many stories to tell.
Every night except Mondays, the house band plays exclusively for Hard Rock Cafe, performing on our stage in the basement. From the Beatles to Bon Jovi to Linkin Park to blues and jazz, the playlist is genre-fluid, covering a wide range of sound and decades of songs. Not only do we put on a show, we also want to encourage customer interaction with the band, adjust the performance according to customers’ response.
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Happy 10th anniversary! What did you do for your birthday?
For Hard Rock Cafe’s 10th anniversary, along with having live music overnight, we have a great Buy One Get One promotion for all of our beers and cocktails from 6:00pm until midnight. This is our way to show tremendous gratitude towards our loyal customers for the past decade, especially to deliver the ‘Hard Rock culture’ and meaningful experiences to all.
All restaurants can serve, but not all can love. The personal touch to your restaurant is outstanding. If Hard Rock Cafe were a person, who would it be?
We’d be the friend who’s easygoing, casual, and warm-hearted. The one who understands and accepts each and every person of the group for who they are individually. The one who is open, enthusiastic, and judgment-free, so much that you always feel comfortable and welcomed, thereby constantly inviting you and everyone to join for dinner.
Following the idea of “love all, serve all” – Hard Rock Cafe always leave a mark in our customers’ heart through our warm, amiable service that embraces the diverse background of all of our customers. We see our customers as part of our family, and we try our best to make sure everyone is delighted and content, to the point that they might even forget this is a restaurant. It’s the familiarity of a close friend, or the familiarity of a loved one, as if one is in the comfort of his/her own home that we’d like to replicate to all kinds of people. Thus, over the years, Hard Rock Cafe has become the staple venue for greetings and date nights among the youths that want to find for themselves a suitable space that respects their privacy and comfort zone.
Is there a common thread among your customers?
Our customers are music lovers and travelers. But beyond satiating their appetite, these are the kind of people who are outgoing, carefree and very interested in meeting new people as well as learning about others’ lives and interests. Considering that Hard Rock Cafe is an ideal dinner option for both foreign travellers and local Vietnamese, we manage to integrate the many cultures together, delivering an international harmony right in the heart of the bustling Saigon. Thus, our customers are incredibly inclusive, which also aligns to our aforementioned philosophy. These are people who are very knowledgeable as they are well-exposed and therefore demand a high standard, and we at Hard Rock Cafe also adhere to the same standards.
What was the craziest, most memorable thing that happened at Hard Rock Cafe?
Adam: One time, an Australian traveller family came into Hard Rock Cafe to use the bathroom. The mother ordered an orange juice for her kid, and I had a chat with them. They mentioned that they were just traveling here for three days, so I gave them some recommendations on where to go and what to see. On my way home from work, I coincidentally saw them again, so I walked up to say hi. The mother was caught off guard as she was surprised to meet the same person again in such a cosmopolitan city like Saigon. Thus, she returned for lunch the next day. When it was the family’s last day, I bought a t-shirt as a souvenir for her son as a parting gift; I saw him as if he was my own little brother, so I wanted him to have a great memory of Vietnam. The son puts it on, and I could see that the mother was rather touched.
Adam: After that, the mother returned to visit me again every 3 years in Saigon and every 4 years when I worked at Hard Rock Cafe Cambodia. For this year, she finally said that it’s time for me to come visit her instead, so that she can show me her hospitality in return. She has already taken care of all the paperwork that was needed so that I can come visit her in Australia. I truly did not expect that such a small action could have led to create such lasting friendships and memories. The experience truly made me understand that what comes from the heart goes to the heart.
Where do you see Hard Rock Cafe in the next decade?
We want to continue to retain our signature personal touch in service and customer experiences from here onwards. Thus, we’d like to continue to provide our great venue as a quality restaurant for music lovers to be able to enjoy great food and great melodies altogether – the Hard Rock Cafe way.
Written by Khanh Ta.