Running a high-profile entertainment-themed restaurant chain has proved perilous for others, however. Competitors such as Planet Hollywood and Hard Rock Cafe have taken embarrassing financial thrashings in the past, though both continue to operate.
Hard Rock, in fact, plans to open a large restaurant and bar of its own at Hollywood & Highland in May. Rolling Stone’s joint will be smaller but fancier and, well, hipper, its creators insist.
“The food will be higher-end than Hard Rock,” said Niall Donnelly, a partner of the magazine. “The venue itself will be for higher-end audiences.”
Rolling Stone tapped Donnelly and his partner Joe Altounian, a real estate developer, to do the heavy lifting involved in building an establishment intended to appeal to both tourists and the chic celebrity set of young Hollywood.
The Rolling Stone venue in Hollywood will operate on two tiers, Donnelly said. On the top level, which opens into the mall, will be a restaurant and bar intended to appeal to the estimated 15 million tourists a year who come to the Hollywood intersection near Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. He also hopes to pull in local residents who may come to watch sports or have a drink.
At street level, on Highland Avenue, will be a more up-market lounge “which will be harder to get into,” Donnelly said. Like other late-night Hollywood lounges, it will include “bottle service,” where patrons buy their spirits such as vodka by the bottle — usually at hefty prices. The lounge may also be rented for corporate events.