The legendary Bar-Kays headlined Hard Rock Cafe’s grand-opening festivities, which also included fun, regionally inspired appetizers and plenty of drinks.
While elbowing my way to a better view of the opening ceremonies for downtown’s reinvented Hard Rock Cafe, I found myself next to a man wearing a fancy white suit and a hat to match.
Me: What a great-looking suit. Are you somebody famous?
Good-looking man in the white suit: No, just looking for a date.
Me: How’s that working out for you?
Good-looking man in the white suit: Not so great.
Then he ducked through the crowd, found a place on stage, and smashed one of 16 guitars on cue with the other musicians and dignitaries taking part in the traditional kickoff for newly opened Hard Rock Cafes.
Turns out the good-looking man in the white suit was Archie Love, vocalist with the legendary Bar-Kays. (Silly me.) The band performed a soulful set to an appreciative audience of VIP guests on hand Thursday evening for the grand opening of the club’s new location in the historic Lansky Brothers building at the corner of Second and Beale.
The Hard Rock’s move from its longtime location at the east end of Beale adds energy to a key intersection shared with B.B. King’s Blues Club and Blues City Cafe. Even more fun, the club connects directly to a new retail store for Lansky Brothers, a return to the building where Elvis Presley shaped his signature style.
The Lansky family was also on hand for the event, staged on both levels of the club and catered by the Hard Rock kitchen staff. Along with generous pours of champagne, wine, and cocktails at the club’s two bars, servers kept up a tempting parade of passed appetizers, including
miniature chicken pot pies, filet mignon sliders with tarragon mayo, and shrimp marinated in watermelon juice on a dollop of cheesy grits.
Beignets stuffed with catfish and cracked crab also were popular and executive chef Russell Booth’s favorite appetizer for the evening.
“For the grand openings, we always try to do fun food that draws from the regional cuisine of America,” Booth said. “The catfish and crab beignet seemed perfect for Memphis.”
Upstairs, gilded gold mirrors were repurposed as pretty serving platters for miniature parfaits layered with cheesecake and chocolate mousse. Over-sized bowls of pink and aqua gumballs added a touch of whimsy.
I skipped the desserts for several servings of the cafe’s mac and cheese served in doll-sized casseroles with lids that were so adorable I made my husband stick a few containers in his pocket. (I ate the cheesy bites made with large shell pasta and roasted red peppers first.)
Hard Rock Cafe, 126 Beale Street (901-529-0007). Opens at 11 a.m.