Image by: Mediamax Anibal Fernandez

Anibal Fernandez: “Hard Rock Cafe Yerevan will be a surprise”

GastroVino's exclusive interview with Anibal Fernandez, Vice President, Franchise Operations & Development at Hard Rock Cafe International

What are the main criteria that country and the city need to meet to become a member of Hard Rock Cafe network?

It must be safe, human rights issue should be advanced, it must have enough population that can enjoy the brand, but the main important thing is to find the right partner. I have been in Armenia for the past six years – back and forth. I came several times I looked and talked to different partners, looked at a lot of sites. But we could not really find the right fit.

And with our partner today – Food Republic, two years ago we made a deal and we looked for sites and we found perfect site, so that’s a good combination.

Armenia will become the last country in the South Caucasus that will have Hard Rock Cafe – there are cafes in Tbilisi and Baku. Are you happy with their performance?

In Tbilisi we have closed temporarily. We are changing our location – moving from one place to the other. We will reopen in Tbilisi by the end of this year, if everything is well.

Can we say that each Hard Rock Cafe is unique – despite being member of an international network?

Every café has its unique design as all the buildings, the sites are different, and in this case this church-type kind architecture is very-very interesting and we want to maintain that and respect it.

Image by: Mediamax Anibal Fernandez

The design was worked together with the franchise partner and our design team and we have come up together. We came up with a fantastic look for this café. It will be a surprise. It will be a new kind of Armenia. You will not find anything else like this. Trust me.

Hard Rock Café Yerevan will be managed by a company co-founded by the Food Republic and Armenia National Interests Fund, which is a state-owned enterprise. Do you have other examples when your local partner is partly owned by the government?

No, it is the first time. We had a situation when we got some support from the government for the opening. In this case the government is investing in Hard Rock Café and it is the first time.

Image by: Mediamax Anibal Fernandez

Our brand is very powerful. And this will attract more and more other business to the market. It is good for a country. Every time we open Hard Rock Cafe in a new country it is a big boom.

I found your profile on LinkedIn and realized that you have worked in Hard Rock International for over 18 years. What keeps you in this this company for so long?

If you looked at my profile, you have seen that I have grown through few positions. Hard Rock is unique, you never get bored.

Tell me another concept that does food – F&B – bar, drinks, music, entertainment, merchandise – all together. Working in a franchise division, I travelled in all parts of the world, opening a lot of cafes, meeting a lot of people, and I love it. I love meeting our guests and our partners. It keeps me busy, I never get bored.

Image by: Mediamax Ara Tadevosyan talks to Anibal Fernandez

We have many projects coming on. We have already opened 9 cafes this year and will open other two – in Verona, Italy and Johor Bahru in Malaysia, and we have a lot of openings next year.

What is your preference in music? What type of music do you regularly listen?
My favorite band is Linkin Park. But I listen to all kind of music – from jazz to pop, modern. And I have the chance to be part of a lot of different live music events through my career. I need to be very open-minded - otherwise I would not have been in this position.

Ara Tadevosyan talked to Anibal Fernandez

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