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?
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"
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
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)
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
Planet Hollywood: endless variety of shirts/vests with Planet Hollywood logos
Hard Rock Cafe: nurse uniforms
Bill's Place: white chef hats, red aprons
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
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: Slapshawtsaol.com