Harry Morton, founder of the Pink Taco Mexican Restaurant chain, has purchased the Viper Room on Los Angeles’ Sunset Strip and plans to turn it into a worldwide franchise.
Along with making "minor cosmetic changes" to the original location, the brand will be developed in target cities Las Vegas, Miami, Portland, Seattle, New York, London and Tokyo, among others, according to a statement.
Morton’s father, Peter Morton, founded the Hard Rock Cafes and the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. Harry Morton’s company includes president Arich Berghammer, former national senior director of operations for the House of Blues and GM for the HoB in West Hollywood.
Both men stressed the new Viper Rooms would be true to the original.
"Harry and I have both agreed that we will not be making any changes that compromise the culture of identity of the Viper Room," Berghammer stated.
Morton added that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Further, "I plan on maintaining the integrity of the brand while elevating the focus of the music and live entertainment."
Since Johnny Depp opened the Viper Room in 1993, the venue has become part of the iconography of Sunset Boulevard. Along with hosting Johnny Cash, Tom Petty, Oasis, Elvis Costello and others, its former house band was The Wallflowers, before Jakob Dylan and his band became a national phenomenon. It is also an unmentioned centerpiece of the song "Long December" by Counting Crows and first came to national attention when River Phoenix died from an overdose outside the club the year it opened.