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Hard Rock Cafe opens at Trolley Square

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When Salt Lake City's newest restaurant opened its doors Thursday night, it did more than make the taste buds salivate. It inspired dreams.

Even for the musically challenged, casual glances across the memorabilia- cluttered walls of the Hard Rock Cafe produces a glimpse into the possibilities of rock stardom. But for aspiring rock 'n' roll stars, the hundreds of pictures, guitars and outfits represent their motivation and aspirations."This place really gives us a glimpse into what got us here," said Ken Block, lead singer and vocalist for Sister Hazel. The band, hailing from Gainesville, Fla., officially christened the Salt Lake Hard Rock with an hourlong performance during Thursday's grand opening.

Among the crowd of more than 100 politicians, socialites and TV personalities stood Jayson Haws, a local musician and one of the dreamers.

As a member of The Given, he has seen most of the clubs in the city. Now he has a new goal: to play the Hard Rock.

"It would definitely be something to put under your belt," Haws said.

For The Given and other local bands who may get the opportunity to play the Hard Rock, the relatively limited capacity of the restaurant would be tempered by the international fame of the Hard Rock name. Placing Hard Rock Cafe on a resume, Haws said, could lend a great amount of credence to a band's commercial possibilities.

"I think Utah could be represented by someone besides the Osmonds," said Haws, noting that the lone local music memorabilia in the Hard Rock were from the Osmond family's glory days.

Heightening outsiders' opinion of Utah is exactly what having a Hard Rock Cafe can accomplish, said Salt Lake Mayor Deedee Corradini.

"I think it shows we have arrived as a city," she said. "There is no question in my mind that you will see a lot more of these things."

Jim Berk, the president of Hard Rock Cafe International, saw the arrival of Hard Rock Cafe along the Wasatch Front more as a reflection of the quickly growing economy and culture.

"We want to go somewhere that people want to see on their shirt," said Berk, referencing the souvenir T-shirts with the cafe emblem and city of origin. "People want to see Salt Lake City."

Besides tourism, one of the primary attractions of Salt Lake City, Berk said, was the city's commitment to strengthening the downtown area. The historical background of Trolley Square, where Hard Rock is located, also played a major role.

Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt, who eventually shed his suit coat and tie in favor of a leather Hard Rock jacket, echoed Berk's opinion.

"This is a big-time establishment, and we're a big-time area," he said.

Thursday night's festivities also included a fully catered dinner and a presentation of $20,000 by the Hard Rock Cafe to the Assistance League of Utah, which coordinates a program to help clothe children in low-income areas.