The world's 123 Hard Rock Café opens Saturday in Biloxi. At 10:00, the restaurant and its adjoining casino resort finally unlock their doors.
Hard Rock's debut comes almost 22 months after Katrina rocked the original resort, just days before its unveiling. Because of the memories of that destructive time, Hard Rock employees are determined to make sure nothing sinks grand opening number two.
A staff picture was being taken outside the Hard Rock Café. Todd Harvey was right in the middle of the picture.
"I've been waiting almost two years for this," the café manager said.
Harvey was at Hard Rock Café before Katrina rocked the resort. On the eve of its opening, he was back, in the same role, with the same passion to bring Hard Rock's "love all, serve all" philosophy to Biloxi.
"It's more than just a place. It's a feeling. It's a culture. Like I said, it's just amazing," he said.
Right after the picture was taken, the café crew joined casino workers inside Hard Rock Live. The song "We Will Rock You" blared from speakers. It's become the Hard Rock Biloxi anthem during daily briefings. This briefing was for all 1,400 employees.
The jam session was designed to put the past in the past once and for all. In fact, this was the only time all month that Katrina was mentioned by Hard Rock President Joe Billhimer. After a video that showed the lead up to opening number one, and the destruction that prevented Hard Rock's 2005 debut, Billhimer said, "That's what happened. We're going forward now."
The company's owner adopted a similar philosophy during his meet the troops address.
"It's just been a roller coaster," he said. "But I tell you, we're just really proud of the way our employees as well as Hard Rock has responded."
Everybody should know the Hard Rock story by now. Roy Anderson's development team first came up with the downtown Biloxi project in 2003. By the summer of 2005, Hard Rock was days away from opening. And then Hurricane Katrina blew the resort apart. There's a display case near the casino that contains music memorabilia that was tossed out to sea in 2005, yet somehow survived the storm.
The rest of Hard Rock Biloxi is brand new. It is Roy Anderson's dream come true.
"I told somebody the other day, I think it's going to be a much needed shot of caffeine for the Mississippi Gulf Coast," said Anderson.
The coast gets to sample Hard Rock's caffeine jolt starting Saturday morning.