Local Current Blog

Hard Rock Cafe at Mall of America will rock no more

Fifteen guitars were ceremonially smashed at the 2014 grand opening of Hard Rock Cafe Mall of America. (Bridget Bennett for MPR)

Minnesota’s Hard Rock Cafe has closed (again).

After reportedly falling behind on rent, the international burger chain quietly closed its Mall of America location Jan. 15, a company spokesperson confirmed. It still had yet to reopen following the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

Hard Rock, known for its massive music memorabilia displays and collectors’ shirts for each of its 200+ hotels and cafes, seemed to have found a home at the tourist-friendly Mall of America, where it was located just outside the Nickelodeon Universe amusement park. Previously, Hard Rock operated a Minneapolis location in Downtown’s Block E from 2002 to 2011.

The 15,000-square-foot restaurant included a stage once graced by Morris Day and the Time, and had a capacity for 1,200 guests. It persevered even as themed restaurants began to struggle, but ultimately could not weather the pandemic, it said in court documents.

Hard Rock, which says it owns over 80,000 rock history artifacts, made sure to represent Minnesota with items including an orange suit with “MINNEAPOLIS” emblazoned on the sleeves, worn by Prince on his Sign o’ the Times Tour; a harmonica owned by Bob Dylan; and signed guitars from the Replacements and Soul Asylum.

Other notable items included a crystal bodysuit from Rihanna, Britney Spears’ waitress outfit from “Crazy,” and Alanis Morissette’s orange sweater from the “Ironic” music video. Portraits across beaded curtains provided a perfect dose of bizarreness: guests could “look through Kurt Cobain’s face into Nickelodeon Universe,” as Jay Gabler wrote in 2014.

All those items will be recirculated among Hard Rock’s other locations, the company said.

In October, the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal reported that the Mall of America had sued the business for $550,000, which included backpay in rent and associated fees. Its 10-year contract showed a monthly rent of about $70,500, according to the paper. Public documents show Hard Rock settled Jan. 6.

A spokesperson for Mall of America declined to comment.