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An artist performs live at the Hard Rock Cafe Angkor in Siem Reap province.
An artist performs live at the Hard Rock Cafe Angkor in Siem Reap province. Nicky Sullivan

Hard Rock Cafe coming to Phnom Penh

The iconic Hard Rock Cafe will open its second venue in the Kingdom before the end of the year, according to a company representative, and will feature the American restaurant chain’s signature collection of rock ’n’ roll memorabilia.

Meas Development Holding, the sole franchise holder for Hard Rock in Cambodia, is completing the construction of the new location, which will occupy 750 square metres on two floors of the capital’s newly opened Exchange Square building. The new outlet will have a capacity of 370 people, including a 75-seat outdoor terrace, a VIP room and a Hard Rock gift shop.

The venue in the capital, which was part of the initial franchise agreement, is set for a soft launch in late September, according to Toby Paul Crowder, director of operations at Hard Rock Cafe Cambodia. He said the Exchange Square location appealed to the US-based franchiser due to its modern facilities and ample parking area – a feature overlooked by most other developments in the capital.

“Once this building was being built, and we suggested it, they [Hard Rock International] were very interested because you have a couple hundred underground parking spaces, a brand new building and proper air conditioning,” he said. “It’s ideal for what we look for.”

Keeping to the Hard Rock identity, the new venue will focus heavily on entertainment, with an American inspired menu and nightly live music, Crowder explained. To increase the local appeal, the restaurant will regularly host Cambodian performers and well-known musicians.

“We made it so you have your dinner, but you’re also entertained at the same time,” he said. “The whole audiovisual system, the sound system, the lighting system, the way we’ve done the seating, it’s all focused on the live action.”

Unlike the Hard Rock Cafe Angkor in Siem Reap, where close to 90 percent of customers are tourists, the Phnom Penh venue will be much more geared towards local clientele and expats, Crowder noted.

Like any of the nearly 200 Hard Rock outlets around the world, the Phnom Penh outlet will include a display of memorabilia from famous rock ’n’ roll musicians. It will also showcase a collection of objects and materials associated with famous Cambodian artists.

“We have memorabilia from four famous Khmer artists,” Crowder said. “This is something that Hard Rock is quite interested in doing because it interests the local crowd and it helps us to sell the brand to them.”

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