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Slap Shots 

Wednesday, Jul 26 1995
In the beginning, there were hamburgers. Well, actually there was Hamburg, Germany, first, then homeboy Felix Mendelssohn, and then the hamburger. After arriving in this country, it was but a matter of time until the fancy meat sandwich just plain wasn't enough. America demanded something more with its burgers, and capitalism obliged: silly building architecture; carhops on roller skates; giant statues of a family of hamburger people; actors wearing the costumes of clowns, mayors, and "hamburglars"; or little animated stars with smiley faces.

Whoever started this gravy train had to enjoy some kind of hobby like trout fishing, because that's exactly what it is. Show the masses something shiny that catches their eyes, then yank them out of their environment and watch them wriggle, gasping for air. The logical next step is to shove a burger under their noses. If fish ate hamburgers, maybe none of this would have happened.

The latest craze are burgers and pseudoartifacts from the great pantheon of pop culture, all jammed together under one roof. Add a dollop of kiss-ass journalism, and you've got yourself a neat international franchise business. But is this trend really that new, or are we simply repeating ourselves?

Burger joint
Planet Hollywood, 2 Stockton
Hard Rock Cafe, 1699 Van Ness
Bill's Place, 2315 Clement

Humble beginnings
Planet Hollywood: New York City 1981
Hard Rock Cafe: London 1971
Bill's Place: San Francisco 1962

Number of franchises
Planet Hollywood: 25
Hard Rock Cafe: 50 total; 14 west of Mississippi
Bill's Place: one; used to be three

Planet Hollywood: "San Francisco's most exciting entertainment complex"
Hard Rock Cafe: "Love all, serve all"; "Save the planet"; "We recycle"
Bill's Place: "Home of the hamburger"

Global influence
Planet Hollywood: London, Hong Kong, Seoul
Hard Rock Cafe: Sydney, Singapore, Cancun, Beijing
Bill's Place: Outer Richmond

Eye-catching outdoor display
Planet Hollywood: matching planetary globes, four-story neon sign
Hard Rock Cafe: vintage-looking gas pumps, flags, plastic cow
Bill's Place: red canopy over front door

Long lines?
Planet Hollywood: down the block, 20 minutes to get inside, hour wait for table (opening day)

Hard Rock Cafe: none for food; for gift shop, 10-15 people
Bill's Place: none today

Planet Hollywood: on Stockton -- guess again
Hard Rock Cafe: valet, $4
Bill's Place: white passenger loading zone in front
Cost of basic cheeseburger/fries
Planet Hollywood: $7.95
Hard Rock Cafe: $6.95
Bill's Place: $5.10; senior citizen gold cards accepted

Menu items unique to restaurant
Planet Hollywood: "Terminator" cocktail, $6.75; desserts that are "out of this world"

Hard Rock Cafe: H.R.C. Famous Baby Rock Watermelon Ribs, $12.95; Hard Rock Fruit Smoothies, $7.95 (keep the glass)

Bill's Place: Herb Caen Burger, $4.99; Beverly Sills Burger, $4.99; Paul Kantner Burger, $5.30

Planet Hollywood: Karl Marsh
Hard Rock Cafe: Bob Clark, kitchen manager
Bill's Place: Eddy, mastermind behind the Eddy Special Burger

Number of employees
Planet Hollywood: "over 200"
Hard Rock Cafe: 135
Bill's Place: eight

Waitstaff attire
Planet Hollywood: endless variety of shirts/vests with Planet Hollywood logos

Hard Rock Cafe: nurse uniforms
Bill's Place: white chef hats, red aprons

Ambient video
Planet Hollywood: Planet Hollywood promotional video clips
Hard Rock Cafe: college football game
Bill's Place: TV on top of the wine cooler is turned off

Is clientele taking pictures?
Planet Hollywood: yes
Hard Rock Cafe: yes
Bill's Place: no, but it is allowed

Artifacts immediately seen upon entering
Planet Hollywood: plaster handprints of Bruce Willis and Jim Belushi; Sharon Stone's ice pick from Basic Instinct; bed shaped like a duck from Toys

Hard Rock Cafe: Beatles lock of hair; photo of Simple Minds; original floorboards from first Hard Rock Cafe in London

Bill's Place: replica of actual china plate used aboard Dwight D. Eisenhower's airplane Columbine

Largest artifact
Planet Hollywood: model of galleon from Ben-Hur
Hard Rock Cafe: Elvis "Jailhouse Rock" poster, taking up one entire wall
Bill's Place: framed literature explaining the White House china collection

Who cares artifacts
Planet Hollywood: wristwatch, earphone, and ID laminate used by Tom Arnold in True Lies

Hard Rock Cafe: autographed drum skin from Hot House Flowers; autographed bass from Whitesnake

Bill's Place: White House china collection; note of thanks from supe Wendy Nelder

Artifact nearest toilet
Planet Hollywood: pair of "loaded" dice used by Robert Redford in Indecent Proposal

Hard Rock Cafe: Hammer's suit from video of "Dancin' Machine"
Bill's Place: "best wishes" note from Midnight Caller star Gary Cole

Address all correspondence to: Slap Shots, c/o SF Weekly, 425 Brannan, San Francisco, CA 94107; e-mail:

By Jack Boulware

About The Author

Jack Boulware


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