Hard Rock is out of Fashion

Andrew Edwards

Triangle Square is not the only Newport-Mesa shopping center to lose

a longtime tenant in recent days. The Hard Rock Cafe at Fashion

Island called it quits Thursday.

A new tenant is already on tap to replace Newport Beach’s Hard

Rock Cafe. The vacancy left by the rock ‘n’ roll-themed restaurant is

expected to be filled by a new restaurant brand owned by Tampa,

Fla.-based Outback Steakhouse Inc.

The new restaurant could be open in early 2006, Outback

spokeswoman Stephanie Amberg said. She said she was not at liberty to

describe any details about the planned eatery.

One Triangle Square business owner said Tuesday that he was hoping

to fill the vacancy left by Virgin Megastore. Billy Stade, owner of

the Closet, a fashion store that targets hip clientele, said he has

his eye on Virgin’s store space. Virgin Megastore’s planned fall

departure was disclosed Monday.

Whether he is able to expand into the music store’s space or not,

Stade believes the only way someone can succeed at Triangle Square is

to make an emotional investment into their business at the shopping


“No big corporation’s going to go in there,” Stade said. “It has

to come from the community.”

Hard Rock Cafe opened at Fashion Island in 1992. In April, surf

rocker Dick Dale headlined a concert at the restaurant to benefit

Surfaris musician Jim Pash, who needed a liver transplant. Pash died

of liver failure a couple of weeks after the show.

The restaurant was also the scene for Newport Beach Film Festival

events. Film festival director Gregg Shwenk said he was saddened to

hear Hard Rock Cafe was leaving Newport and recalled this year’s

visit by Lord of the Rings cast member Billy Boyd as one of his more

memorable moments at the restaurant.

Before its closure, the Hard Rock Cafe was flanked by two

restaurants, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar and Roy’s Hawaiian

Fusion Cuisine. Both restaurants are chains that have joint venture

agreements with Outback and have corporate offices at the same

Newport Beach address.

A spokeswoman for Hard Rock Cafe International Inc. referred all

questions about the restaurants closure to a prepared statement

indicating that the corporation decided that keeping its Newport

location running did not fit its long-term plans.

Fashion Island is owned by the Irvine Co., which keeps its

headquarters near the shopping center. Company spokesman Bill Rams

said the Irvine Co. and Hard Rock Cafe reached an agreement to end

the cafe’s lease before it closed.