As I entered Toronto’s Hard Rock Cafe last night on my way to host a special U2 fan event, I once again admired how the place had a window on Yonge-Dundas Square, one of the most important and vibrant public spaces in the country. “Talk about lucking out,” I thought, “When they moved in here decades ago, they couldn’t have known that they’d end up with such an iconic spot. They’ve got more than 100 feet facing the square!”
Hold on, though. Things are apparently about change.
According to this article in Retail Insider, the space currently occupied by the Hard Rock at 279 Yonge, has been leased to Shopper’s Drug Mart. This is the first time in 35 years that this 22,000 square-foot spot–a place exposed to 60 million people a year–is going to change hands.
The Hard Rock’s lease expires in June, but with the new rent rumoured $2 million dollars annually–twice what the HRC is currently paying–it’s become impossible to sell enough beer, wings and burgers to justify staying.
Shoppers will take the three floors (basement, ground and second floor, each around 7,500 square feet) along with (perhaps) the office space on the third floor. This is exactly the kind of tenant the landlord was looking for: one big store instead of the hassle of dividing the space into smaller units.
When complete, this will be a helluva big Shoppers Drug Mart. What could they possibly have planned? Some new beauty store concept, perhaps?
As for the Hard Rock, I haven’t heard of any plans to relocate. Have you?