Securing The Hard Rock Cafe

Facilities manager Howard Long talks about taking safety and security standards global for restaurant chain

While life-safety is clearly the lead focus for Hard Rock Café, Long says they don't forget about security. Hard Rock Café, because of the popularity of the brand, has long delved into retail operations. And it's more than the classic "orange circle" logo T-shirts. Now the company has retail shops (in the process of being renamed "The Rock Shop") where you can find everything from $200-plus cashmere sweatshirts to leather-and-canvas cargo pants, and of course, racks of the classic souvenir T-shirts.

"Retail is the big challenge," admits Long. "We have a big problem in shrink."

To fight that, the stores use ink tags on some items, but Long says they've also had to re-examine store designs so that shoppers and tourists couldn't easily grab a pair of leather pants and be out the door before a sales associate could look up. He's also finding that closely monitoring point-of-sale data can tell him where the shrink is happening faster than video surveillance can.

On top of the retail component at their restaurants, the Hard Rock Cafés themselves are slathered with rock-n-roll memorabilia, some of which could probably earn the "priceless" designation. Despite that, Long says the memorabilia isn't the main issue. Security for those items starts with big bolts and into the walls.

"If you were to steal one of our pieces of rock memorabilia, not only would you end up taking a big chunk of drywall with you and leaving a track of drywall dust on your escape route, but we have high-tech layered security with cameras in the cafés and alarms. Theft of memorabilia really doesn't happen very often."

In fact, you could call it covert surveillance, but it's not. Perhaps it's even "crime prevention through environmental design", but it's hard to spot the dozen-plus cameras each café has when you're busy ogling the amount of memorabilia on the walls, from Jeff Beck's old guitars to early promo posters for Korn.

"Besides," says Long, "people don't want to steal the memorabilia – they actually seem to prefer to steal the T-shirts."

You're kidding, right? They'd rather have a wad of cotton that costs $3 to print than a classic artist's gold record?

"I'm dead serious. They'd rather steal the T-shirt."