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Matt Sorum
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Hard Rock Cafe Darling Harbour Media And Celebs Event; Sydney, Australia by Eva Rinaldi

The world famous Hard Rock Cafe has returned to ‘Sin City’ Sydney with a vengeance, based on tonight’s launch event at the brand new Darling Harbour venue.

Hard Rock put on quite a show and rolled out the celebrities and live music including: Hamish Dodds, Matt Sorum, Dave Rich, DJ Lethal, Stan Walker, Angry Anderson, L Huntly, Sarah McLoed, Hamish Rosser, Altiyan Childs, Kris Peterson and Stim McLean. Most of them had turns smashing guitars, which is a trademark of opening new Hard Rock Cafes.

We all know that the cost of living and setting up a business in Sydney is considerable, but Hard Rock is certain their latest Australian venture will be a smashing (as in guitar) success. Sydney is one of the busiest markets anywhere globally for the Hard Rock Cafe, says the global chief of the music-themed burgers and ribs franchise.

Hamish Dodds, prez and chief exec of Hard Rock International, advised staffing costs down under in Australia make Hard Rock’s Sydney operations expensive compared with other global locations, and they are comparing to its other 172 venues which include cafes, hotels and even land based casinos. Yes, casinos, but Australia’s The Star and Crown Casino need not worry, as they have no plans for gaming in Australia – at least not any they are talking about.

Hard Rock International is owned by the well known and respected Seminole American Indian tribe, which purchased the global Hard Rock brand in 2007 after successfully running two Hard Rock hotel and casino operations in Florida in the U.S.

"For us this is an English-speaking country and people understand the history of rock," Mr Dodds said in Sydney on Tuesday ahead of the grand opening of the 500-seat venue in the Darling Harbour entertainment hotbed.

"Part of the downside of this market is it’s a mature economy – staffing costs in this market are very different to what we would experience in India.

"I would say the price mark-up here is about 50 per cent higher than the US – this is probably one of the most expensive markets we have in our portfolio."

Mr Dodds advised the Sydney Hard Rock Cafe was priced at a similar level to comparable restaurants in the area and he expected business to be brisk, averaging between 300 to 700 main meals a day.

Sydney would be among the top ten performers in the global network, he said, and among the top five of franchised outlets.

Tonight signified a return to Sydney for the Hard Rock franchise, which closed its previous venue in East Sydney in 2007.

Mr Dodds said Hard Rock had returned to Sydney with a revised and smarter strategy.

He said the former business was in a great location for the 1980s when the brand was fresh and people would go to the Hard Rock Cafe.

"Copycats harmed Hard Rock’s own business and the market changed to the point where we found ourselves in a B minus location and to a degree we lost a bit of relevance", Mr Dodds said.

The firm bought back its Sydney franchise in 2007 and has been revived by director and franchise holder Lennie Huntly, former GM of the Sydney business during the 90s.

Mr Huntly, who also holds the franchise for the Hard Rock Cafe in Surfers Paradise, said he had been thinking about re-opening a Sydney Hard Rock Cafe since the last one closed.

The waterfront location and views over Darling Harbour are a huge plus and soon a live music stage and 600-person music area will be rocking and rolling.

"We are focused on not only being about lunch and dinner," he said.

Mr Huntly also has the rights to open venues in Melbourne, Cairns and Perth. Melbourne’s former venue closed in 2007, but that doesn’t mean it will return with a hit.

Well done to the good folks at Hard Rock Cafe and we look forward to meeting up with the great guys and girls there again soon. Rock on.


Hard Rock Cafe International

Darling Harbour official website

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Samantha Harris
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Image by Eva Rinaldi Celebrity and Live Music Photographer
Louis Vuitton New Sydney Store VIP Party

Early today luxury brand Louis Vuitton opened a new store (Louis Vuitton George Street Maison) in Sydney, Australia, and this was followed up this evening with a VIP party with a healthy amount of celebrities and other VIP’s on hand, along with about 30 media personnel covering the black carpet outside the building.

The Louis Vuitton George Street Maison, understood to have cost in the region of million, will deliver three-storeys of men’s and women’s fashion, plus "personalised services".

The iconic French fashion brand enjoyed its VIP opening in Sydney earlier today with Australian actress Cate Blanchett getting a bit of media rub off from the event today.

Tonight many more celebs were present with the list including Ronnie Wood (Rolling Stones guitarist), Melissa Doyle, Miranda Kerr, Erika Heynatz, Delta Goodrem, Isabel Lucas, Megan Gale, Laura Bingle, Heidi Middleton, Kerri-Anne Kennerley and Samantha Harris.

Company CEO Yves Carcelle was on hand at both events, and was Oceania CEO Philip Corne.

Mr Corne advised the new development had been a long time coming for the brand, which now has 10 stores across the nation.

"We wouldn’t commit to the investment until we found the right space that allowed us to present the brand as we should," he said.

Corne understands that his brand is high end luxury and not for everyone: "People have worked hard and are rewarding themselves."

As Time magazine once said, it was the French who "practically invented the notion of luxury in the 17th century, and in the 18th century, when Marie Antoinette took up residence in Versailles, and added her own twist to the genre". After conducting a survey on global luxury, the magazine concluded Europeans regard "luxury as a means of expressing their individuality and style while placing high authenticity and pedigree".

In Sydney apparently there is a group of cashed up consumers who don’t mind spending up on luxury goods.

A big congratulations to top brass Yves Carcelle, Philip Corne, Jean-Baptiste Debains and their team for putting on a great day and evening event.

Louis Vuitton cool and hip tips: we understand that the company sometimes creates very limited amounts of personalised goods. How about a guitar case for Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, a surfboard and surfboard cover (what pro would actually use that) and even a skate-board and cover (good luck with Maroubra Beach Skatepark local boys). When LV talks "personalised services" and "personalised products", they aren’t kidding.


Louis Vuitton

Louis Vuitton (Australia)

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