The owner of George Town’s Hard Rock Café says he is disappointed that a legal dispute with the U.S. parent company has forced the business to close with the capital on the cusp of an economic revival.
The popular theme bar closed its doors earlier this month with the loss of around 20 jobs. Local owners say the decision has nothing to do with the decline in cruise tourists that has affected other businesses on the waterfront, including Island Companies at the Flagship building.
Hardrock franchise holder Kevin Doyle said the company had been looking forward to the high season with cruise ship numbers expected to rebound significantly over the next few years.
Cruise numbers are anticipated to hit a 10-year low of 1.4 million this year, but the Port Authority has said that advanced bookings for the next two years will see a significant recovery.
“The Hard Rock Café in Grand Cayman operates under a franchise,” Mr. Doyle said. “Recent times have seen a number of issues arise between the parties that have been under discussion and, unfortunately, this has now become a matter for litigation.”
He declined to say what the litigation was about.
He said the café, which opened its doors in Cayman in 2000, was now in voluntary liquidation. At the time of the closure, it employed around 20 staff, having steadily reduced numbers from a high of 100 employees.
The T-shirt and souvenir shop remains open, to sell off the remaining inventory. Mr. Doyle said around half of the staff had found new jobs and he was doing what he could to help the rest find work.
He added, “It should be noted that Hard Rock Cafe has not closed down because of local economy. In fact, we were looking forward to the high season with Cayman heading into a bumper season for cruise passenger arrivals, whose numbers are at near record highs of 1,850,000 visiting passengers annually, for the next three years.”
Mr. Doyle said the predicted high numbers “will have a major, positive impact on a wide spectrum of businesses and particularly those businesses situated in George Town. These tremendously high cruise figures will also translate into job opportunities in a wide variety of businesses in retail, restaurants and tour companies – to name but a few.
“We are deeply saddened that Hard Rock Café has closed its doors but we are delighted for all of those local businesses that Cayman’s economy is on the rise.”
The Hard Rock Café has 175 outlets in 53 different countries. The company behind the global brand has previously indicated that they hope to return to Cayman at some point with a new local business partner at a different location.