Back in 1971, Eric Clapton donated his guitar to the original Hard Rock Cafe in London to designate his favorite bar stool.

"Slowhand's" little act started the wheels rolling on a multi-billion-dollar concept that would eventually take the world by storm.By the end of this year, there will be 120 Hard Rock Cafes in business around the world.

Salt Lake City's eatery will be No. 90.

But it's a sort of miracle the worldwide restaurant chain even considered Utah's capital city as an HRC site. Rumor has it, not even 10 years ago, the corporation flat-out told Salt Lake City there would never be a Hard Rock Cafe in this state.

"But we did some research," said Greg Fain,the Hard Rock Cafe's general manager. "And we liked what we discovered."

Fain discovered there were more than 9 million people who come as tourists to visit Salt Lake City. And getting the Olympics didn't hurt the cause either.

"We found out that Salt Lake City was just a great market for us," Fain said. "There's also the University of Utah just up the street."

Salt Lake City's Hard Rock Cafe will be located at Trolley Square, where Green Street used to be - 610 Trolley Square (500 South between 600 East and 700 East).

"We're a worldwide restaurant," Fain said. "People around the world know us and it seemed logical to build here since so many people come through this city."

Fain said the Hard Rock Cafe corporate offices in Orlando, Fla., had thought about Salt Lake City and the surrounding areas for quite some time.

"The planning began about two years ago," Fain said. "We looked at Park City and downtown Salt Lake and found Trolley Square.

"There are a lot of tour buses that stop here," he said. "And it's got a cool atmosphere with the old architecture. It's like blending the old with the hip."

There are more than 600 pieces of music memorabilia that grace the walls of the Salt Lake Hard Rock. That's double the average, said Fain.

"One of the reasons is because the ceilings are so high," Fain said.

All the Hard Rock Cafes get their memorabilia - guitars from Edward Van Halen, drumsticks from Led Zeppelin's John Bonham, stage costumes from Mick Jagger and Alice Cooper - through various means, said Fain.

"There are auctions and donations from the artists," he explained. "And sometimes there are people who call us up wanting to give us something an artist has given them."

The donor must have two forms of authenticity, said Fain. "And we rotate all of the goods every five years."

That means the props and other paraphernalia from Melissa Etheridge and Wynonna Judd will be moved to a different restaurant in 2003.

All the Hard Rock Cafes contain something that pays tribute to the cities they're in.

Sometimes menu items feature a food that is unique for the area, but that's a bit of a problem for Salt Lake City.

"We need to look into that more," said Fain with a laugh. "Through all our previous studies, all we came up with was Jell-O. And we really want to do a bigger main course."

The various restaurant displays reflect the surrounding regions as well, Fain said.

The Salt Lake cafe features various stained-glass portraits of rock artists backed by red canyon sceneries. (See accompanying story.)

There is also a column that is decorated with various Donny and Marie Osmond goodies, including Marie's patchwork boots she wore when the siblings had their own TV variety show.

The "bubble gum" aside, there are displays of Slash's black Gibson guitar he played while a member of Guns N' Roses; a red smoking jacket signed by R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe and a red fringed dress worn by Cindy Wilson of the B-52s, just to name a few.

What would a rock 'n' roll restaurant be without music?

The massive sound system, including a 200-disc CD player, that will pump the tunes through 93 speakers carries more than 110,000 watts. In fact, Trolley Square didn't have enough generated power to house the stacked console.

In addition to the speakers, there are eight plasma screens (at $11,000 each) that will flash music videos throughout the restaurant.

"We had to bring in more power to make this work," Fain said.

Getting back to the food, all the servers and cooks are local employees who are trained by other Hard Rock Cafe employees.

"We interviewed maybe 950 people and had to whittle it down so we could hire 174," Fain said. "And the quality of people here is wonderful. I think this location is going to do well."

Salt Lake City's Hard Rock Cafe will officially open to the public July 10. There will be some preliminary opening parties prior to that. On July 8, the Cafe's "soft opening" will include employees and bigwigs from Trolley Square, and July 9 is the official, by-invitation-only gala. Florida-based hippie-jam Sister Hazel will perform at the gala.

After that, the restaurant will be open from 11 a.m.-midnight from Sunday through Thursday. On Fridays and Saturdays, the eatery will be open until 1 a.m. And for you club-hoppers, there will be a private club upstairs.

*****

Additional Information

Here's a list of where other Hard Rock Cafe's are located around the world:

COMPANY OWNED RANKING DATE OPEN FRANCHISES RANKING DATE OPEN

Argentina: Australia:

1. Buenos Aires (56) 10/95 1. Sydney (16) 04/89

.. 2. Melbourne (57) 10/95

Canada: 3. Surfers Paradise (64) 03/96

2. Toronto (2) 06/78

3. Toronto - Sky Dome (18) 06/89 Canada:

4. Montreal (25) 09/90 4. Calgary (50) 04/95

.. 5. Edmonton (52) 07/95

Caribbean: 6. Vancouver (51) 06/95

5. St. Thomas, Virgin Isl (37) 12/92 7. Whistler (55) 09/95

6. San Juan, Puerto Rico (38) 03/93 8. Banff (59) 10/95

.. 9. Kanata (63) 01/96

Europe: 10. Ottawa (65) 06/96

7. London,England (1) 06/71 11. Niagara Falls (72) 12/96

8. Paris, France (30) 11/91

9. Berlin, Germany (33) 05/92 Far East:

10. Madrid,Spain (47) 11/94 12. Singapore (21) 02/90

11. Copenhagen, Denmark (53) 07/95 13. Bangkok, Thailand (28) 03/91

12. Barcelona,Spain (82) 11/97 14. Kualanpur,Malaysia (29) 11/91

13. Edinburgh, Scotland (86) 03/98 15. Jakarta, Indonesia (31) 10/92

.. 16. Bali, Indonesia (41) 10/93

South Africa: 17. Taipei,Taiwan (42) 12/93

14. Cape Towvn (71) 11/96 18. Beijing, China (43) 05/94

.. 19. Kowloon, Hong Kong (49) 11/94

United States: 20. Hong Kong Island (46) 03/95

15. Los Angeles, CA (3) 10/82 21. Shanghai, China (67) 08/96

16. New York, NY (5) 04/84 22. Guangzhou, China (68) 09/96

17. San Francisco, CA (6) 09/84 23. Seoul, Korea (74) 12/96

18. Chicago, IL (8) 06/86 24. Shenzen, China (76) 04/97

19. Houston,TX (9) 11/86 25. Manila,Phillipines (61) 12/95

20. Dallas, TX (10) 11/86

21. Honolulu, Hl 13() 07/87 Japan:

22. New Orleans,LA (14) 12/87 26. Tokyo (4) 07/83

23. San Diego, CA (15) 12/88 27. Osaka (31) 01/92

24. Boston,MA (17) 06/89 28. Nagoya (77) 07/97

25. Washington,DC (20) 01/90 29. Yokohama (78) 07/97

26. Orlando, FL (22) 06/90

27. Maui,HI (23) 07/90 Mexico:

28. Las Vegas, NV (24) 09/90 30. Cancun (11) 06/87

29. Aspen, CO (27) 01/91 31. Acapulco (19) 11/89

30. Atlanta,GA (35) 11/92 32. Puerto Vallarta (26) 12/90

31. Newport Beach, CA (36) 11/92 33. Tijuana (32) 04/92

32. Miami, F1 (39) 09/93 34. Mexico City (40) 09/93

33. Nashville,TN (44) 06/94 35. Cozumel (45) 10/94

34. San Antonio,TX (48) 01/95 36. Cabo San Lucas (60) 12/95

35. Myrtle Beach, SC (54) 07/95

36. Phoenix, AZ (58) 10/95 Middle East:

37. Hollywood, CA (62) 01/96 37. Beirut, Lebanon (73) 12/96

38. Niagara Falls,NY (66) 07/96 38. Amman,Jordan (79) 08/97

39. Key West,FL (69) 09/96 39. Manama,Bahrain (81) 10/97

40. Atlantic City, NJ (70) 11/96 40. Dubai (84) 12/97

41. Baltimore, MD (75) 07/97

42. Sacramento, CA (80) 08/97 Other:

43. Memphis, TN (83) 11/97 41. Stockholm, Sweden (7) 04/85

44. Philadelphia,PA (95) 01/98 42. Reykjavik,lceland (12) 07/87

.. 43. Guam (87) 05/98

Company Owned =44

Franchises =43

Total =87

Countries =30 (Inc. U.S., SanJuan & St. Thomas)