Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Hard Rock Cafe in Venice - Free food! World Burger Tour

Hard Rock Cafe on a boat - Free food!
(Venice, Italy) Hard Rock Cafe was giving out free food all last week in choice locations throughout Venice as part of their World Burger Tour. Hard Rock has 199 venues in 63 countries, and encourages each location to add local flavor to the traditional burger. Here in Italy, they hooked up with Piaggio Ape, the classic Italian three-wheel light-weight commercial vehicle, to take their food to the streets. Since we've got streets made of water in Venice, they came up with a Hard Rock Cafe food boat, which traveled to five different locations and handed out mini burgers, fries and a chocolate brownie to everyone who lined up to grab some free food.

Line for Hard Rock Cafe boat
I went to the venue over by Ca' Foscari, Venice's university. The line went all the way down the fondamenta. The mood was festive; the music of a local Venetian band, Pittura Fresca, cranked over the loud speakers. The cooks were whipping up their Local Legendary Burgers on a grill designed by Electrolux Professional, who collaborated with Hard Rock. 

The ingredients were local: Speck, Asiago cheese, and Radicchio from Treviso, or a tasty veggie burger with fresh toppings (I sampled both:). All the employees seemed to be from the Veneto. The only thing that wasn't local were the drinks -- Pepsi or Lipton ice tea -- but they did have an Italian beverage, Nastro Azzuro beer, who was their main partner. 

Chefs at work
So it seems that Hard Rock Cafe is actually continuing on its mission to support local businesses and encourage Venetian culture. It is a refreshing change from when Hard Rock first arrived in Venice on April 9, 2009. Back then, many employees were not Venetian at all, but from places like Naples. It seemed to be the Venice headquarters for the newly-expanded American military base in Vicenza, about 40 miles away. The United States was about to begin its surge in Afghanistan, and Venice was crawling with military personnel hopped up on warrior energy... it was drugs, sex and rock 'n roll with an added, dangerous element: soldiers. And the business of soldiers is completely different than the business of rockers. Think Altamont, when the Hells Angels ended up doing security during the Rolling Stones performance. Something like that, only with people armed with military weapons instead of knives...

Under the management of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, who had acquired the international company on March 11, 2007, the Hard Rock Cafe in Venice seemed to have gotten far away from the original inspiration of the founders, Isaac Burton Tigrett and Peter Morton, who created one of the world's largest collection of rock and roll memorabilia -- or perhaps HRC had just hooked up with the wrong locals...

Isaac Burton Tigrett & Peter Morton - Original creators of Hard Rock Cafe
After that dark beginning, the Hard Rock Cafe needed to work hard to change its image here in town. So, I'm happy to learn that they have make many positive efforts in that regard. To me, the greatest change has been in the staff. Everyone I met was charming and enthusiastic -- and from the Veneto! 

Seminole Tribe of Florida
The Seminole Tribe of Florida is the only Native American tribe who never surrendered to the US Army and never signed a formal peace treaty. The United States was determined to force the tribe out of Florida, and did manage to kill or drive the majority of Seminoles off their land. But a tiny group hid out in the Everglades swamp land, refusing to leave Florida. They have come a long way since then, earning revenues of $1.1 billion in 2005 after establishing tax-free smoke shops and high-stakes bingo. Their newspaper, The Seminole Tribune, is subtitled: "The Voice of the Unconquered."

From their website:

The Seminole Tribe is headquartered in Hollywood, Florida, near Fort Lauderdale. It is a sovereign government with an elected Tribal Council of five members. Governmental expenditures are earmarked for police and fire protection, emergency medical services, education, health care, housing, water treatment, economic development, and parks and recreation.

More than 90 percent of the Tribe’s budget is currently derived from gaming revenue. The Hard Rock International acquisition will provide additional diversification sought by the Tribal Council. Its business operations currently include cattle ranching, citrus production, tourism promotion, sports management and tobacco sales.

Nearly 3,300 Seminole Indians live on and off reservations throughout Florida. Seminoles pay taxes, serve in the U.S. Armed Forces and vote in elections. They are descended from a few hundred Seminoles that escaped into the Everglades in the mid-1800s, when the U.S. Government attempted to relocate all of Florida’s Seminoles and other Indians to Oklahoma in what became known as “The Trail of Tears.”

Matthew Road and His Henchman
Venetians and Seminole Indians seem born of the same spirit, so it is no wonder that the tribe rapidly changed the way they do business in town. I was invited to an American 50s night last Friday, featuring Wild Turkey Bourbon and rockabilly band Matthew Road and His Henchman, who were Italian. (I was surprised to learn that Wild Turkey is now owned by the Campari Group, an Italian company! Talk about globalization...) I kicked back with a Mint Julep (I was born in South Carolina:) to enjoy the show. It is hard for me to resist old time rock and roll, and before I knew it, I was dancing with a group of much younger women to Elvis Presley and Jail House Rock. I had a genuinely good time, and it seemed that so did everyone else. It was some good ol' American rock and roll, Italian style.

Hard Rock Cafe - LOVE ALL. SERVE ALL.
Upstairs, over the diners' heads blazed the famous words: LOVE ALL. SERVE ALL, the words of Sai Baba, Isaac Burton Tigrett's guru, which the Seminole Tribe inherited when they bought the Hard Rock Cafe. Tigrett said that he ran the Hard Rock Cafe business not only on that message of love, but also on Sai Baba's teaching of the five human values: Peace, Love, Truth, Righteousness and Non-violence.

It feels like the Seminole Tribe of Florida has finally gotten on the right path. And if we have an American business like the Hard Rock Cafe right in the heart of Venice, it's fitting that it's owned by an unconquered Native American Tribe.

Ciao from Venezia,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

1 comment:

  1. It feels like the Seminole Tribe of Florida has finally gotten on the right path. And if we have an American business like the Hard Rock Cafe right in the heart of Venice, it's fitting that it's owned by an unconquered Native American Tribe.