Pigeon Forge Hard Rock Cafe opens Tuesday

May. 15, 2014 @ 08:41 PM

Moving from its old spot in Gatlinburg has given the Hard Rock Cafe a stage for live music, a new patio and its own dedicated parking area.

The new cafe opens for business Tuesday in the old Tony Roma’s building, located beside Wonderworks on the Parkway.

It has about the same square footage as the Gatlinburg cafe, but offers a higher seating capacity. It has a large, dedicated parking lot in front of the building and a patio.

Hard Rock officials are excited by the stage, as well. “It’s such a big part of who we are,” said James Buell, director of music and marketing for the chain. “It’s the biggest reason we wanted to move from Gatlinburg.”

Holly Smith, who will be booking acts for the new venue, said they would be bringing in country and rock acts. Planners hope to have music on Fridays and Saturdays at least during tourist season, and a gospel brunch on Sundays.

She wasn’t yet ready to announce who would be playing, but said people should check the Hard Rock web site or look for announcements in the next few weeks.

The new cafe better reflects the updated look Hard Rock is now offering.

“This is more who we are now,” Buell said as he stood in the lobby.

Music memorabilia has always been a centerpiece of Hard Rock Cafes. The Pigeon Forge location's displays include a dress worn by local music icon Dolly Parton, the sweater Buddy Holly is wearing in the picture used for his souvenir postage stamp and more items from performers including Elton John, the Beatles, the Ramones and Waylon Jennings.

The food offerings may have changed since the last time many people ate at a Hard Rock. A new menu was launched March 26, with 30 new items and another 28 changed.

“This menu redesign reflects our ever-present commitment to bringing guests fresh, authentic, scratch-based offerings,” said Mike Zajak Sr., director of culinary development for the chain.

jfarrell@themountainpress.com