"The House that Isaac built"

A tribute to

"The Supreme Court of Rock and Roll"

A tour of the Dallas Hard Rock Cafe

November 28, 1986 - March 4, 2007



Picture of Isaac Tigrett being interviewed by a local radio station back in the early spring of 1985. Notice the difference in the color of the cement on the area above the front doors versus the rest of the building. This "new" area over the front porch would soon become "The Cheese Club"...

The first engineering draft of the building from Charles Duboab and Associates was dated March 15, 1986 and the 8th and last revision was dated July 3, 1986. During the time between mid-March and the official opening to the public on November 7th, 1986 Isaac spent close to $13 million dollars renovating this once McKinney Avenue Baptist Church (built in 1906) and deemed historical landmark. The entire structure of the building had to be revamped in order to add the upstairs seating area, This also included major renovations to include the "The Cheese Club" and major modifications to the rotunda where the rotating star was installed. Isaac's disappointment is the guitar bar forced delays because of old guitars being ripped out and new ones being installed. The outside guitar shaped patio with a view looking south towards the Dallas skyline which included the ornate guitar columns added months to the project. Pete Townsend's entire room from his castle in England took much longer to deliver and install than was previously assumed thus causing delays in "The Cheese Club" construction. Even during pre-opening week, construction workers were still doing final touch-up and cleaning crews working to have the cafe open on schedule.








Picture of the Dallas Hard Rock Cafe taken on June 14, 1988, approximately 18 months after the opening. Isaac is not in this picture as this was London's 17th Anniversary and he was there celebrating with them. Several in this picture went on to become Executives in HRC International, along with AGM's and GM's of various HRC's in other cities. At the time this picture was taken, Isaac had established the Hard Rock Cafe International headquarters in the Stoneleigh Hotel, just a few short blocks from the Dallas cafe. Many of the companies, architects, and vendors who created the early Hard Rock's were based here in Dallas.






View of the interior of the Dallas Hard Rock Cafe. Picture was taken in the 1986-1987 timeframe. Notice that only the Elvis stained glass memorial was installed. Over the next year the Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Berry memorials were installed.

View of the main floor standing from behind the stage area. This picture was also taken during the 1986-1987 timeframe. Notice the handcarved eagles. These are still in use today.






This beautiful room was made possible because of a long-time friendship between Pete Townsend of "The Who" and Isaac. When Pete found out Isaac was going to create the Dallas Hard Rock Cafe, Pete donated this entire room to Isaac as a gesture of his friendship. The large ornate wood piece over the red couch is a headboard from Pete's bedroom. Isaac decided to create the famous "red sofa" instead of not using the headboard at all. Over the years, many celebrities and "Rock Stars" have been in this room and have sat on this couch. The ornate woodcarvings on the bar area on the far side of the room add much to the flavor and warmth of this room. Also, on the right side of the room, below the gold frame is a working fireplace, which has openings to both sides of the wall. The fireplace in the early years was lit anytime the cafe was open for business.






This outside "Sun Room" of "The Cheese Club" was actually added as the section we saw in the above picture with Isaac being interviewed. The old front of the building is the wall on the right side of this picture. It is also the supporting wall for the entire front of the building. Many of Isaac's childhood toys are displayed around the top walls of this room including a large train set and model toys. The large glass on the left side of the picture has small circles of brass with "HRC" in them and the large circle in the middle has the letters "SCRR" (Supreme Court of Rock and Roll) inscribed.

These rooms were where Isaac would bring all of his many friends when they would come to town to perform or visit. Anyone who knew Isaac realized there was at least one place in town they could go to get away from the crowds and flashbulbs. Stories of what all went on this room are numerous and amazing. Isaac had a back stairway into the room plus created a special elevator that led from the backside of the building on the first floor to this room. Isaac even created a hidden marble restroom down on the first floor that was accessible from the elevator for his special guests.

Today, these rooms are still used for special occasion meetings and parties. The sound system and TV monitors are separate from the rest of the cafe making it a great place for these types of events. In 1995 Corporate Management decided the room was an eyesore and wanted it removed so as to provide increased seating area for customers. Several of the local patrons began a letter writing campaign to Corporate Management asking that the room be saved. Many letters were sent to Corporate from customers worldwide who had visited and seen this grand room. Today, the "Cheese Club" still stands and is only a part of the mystique of Isaac and the shrine he created here in Dallas.









This is a view of the Cafe from the second floor balcony as seen in 1993. Notice the handrail with the Top 100 songs of 1986 inlaid in brass. This "Top 100" brass tribute runs throughout the entire building on any handrail. The 3 stained glass tributes on the far side of this picture were first displayed at the Dallas HRC. The glass shrines were not installed at opening, but were created and installed over a period of almost a year. The first mural installed was the "Elvis" memorial in the center. From left to right (Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis). For the next 4-5 years, each new HRC created included a stained glass mural depicting rock stars but the first ones for Hard Rock worldwide were installed here in Dallas.








The rotunda was created to look like the interior dome of the "Texas State Capital" building down in Austin thus, the theme of "Supreme Court of Rock and Roll". The Brass Star in the center of the dome is a one-of-a-kind treasure of this cafe. The star drops down from the ceiling some 15 feet, rotates both vertically and horizontally. The star itself has special internal lights that feed through a revolving color mechanism. This change of color then feeds fiber optic streamers which light up some 5,200 small pinholes on the bottom face of the star. Also, the brass plate between the ceiling has large holes that house bright spotlights that direct bright light down on the star when it is in operation. This same brass plate also revolves. As part of the experience, a fog machine was embedded in the rotunda to the right side of the picture that worked in conjunction with the operation of the star. Originally, when this star was first installed, a special cassette player and tapes were created by the manufacture that would control the star to rock music that had been created on the tapes. Over a period of time, the tapes broke or were thrown away by the staff, not knowing that the tapes would control the star.

Isaac paid $250,000 for the star and the tapes that controlled the star cost approximately $10,000 each.


Because of the complicated operation of pendelums required to lower and rotate the star, it quit working in 1999. Several people have worked on the star's mechanism over the years to get it working again to no avail. These days the customers who walk into the cafe have no idea of what an exciting experience they are missing. Up until it quit working the star could be manually operated from a special control box that was accissable from 3 different locations in the cafe.









Picture taken of the front of the Dallas Hard Rock Cafe in the summer of 1992. Notice the old logo.






Night view of the Dallas Hard Rock Cafe taken in the winter of 1992.




Present day view of the front of the Dallas HRC. This picture was taken in late 1996 after a face-lift consisting of a new coat of paint, new carpet, and the new florescent logos. Notice the new logos and the gold paint on the Eagles and the "Supreme Court of Rock and Roll"... The Dallas cafe is also home to some 21 brass stars that surround the property.









A view of the original oil derrick installed by Isaac. The derrick is motorized so that the arm moves up and down just as if it were actually pumping oil. Isaac's idea was to have the derrick running any time the cafe was open. The first time Art Levitt (former CEO) came to town, Art stood across the street and viewed the Dallas HRC. He was having a hard time figuring out why Dallas would have an oil derrick out front. He decided he wanted the derrick removed and have a Cadillac installed in it's place. Thanks to Steve Routhier and a few other long time corporate employees, Art was educated about Texas oil, Dallas, and the derrick was saved.






I hope you've enjoyed this tour of the Dallas Hard Rock Cafe. It is truly a work of art and a tribute to Isaac and his vision for this great company. Please, if you are ever in Dallas, take the time to stop by and see this great building for yourself.

The Dallas cafe was closed to the public March 4, 2007...

"Love All - Serve All"