If you have ever been to a Hard Rock Casino, you know that it’s about much more than slot machines and poker tables. The brand brings with it a history of celebrating music and artists and the Hard Rock Casino that opened in Gary last year is definitely no exception.
The casino sits not far from the modest home where Joe and Katherine Jackson raised their nine children. The Jacksons became one of the most famous families in entertainment history. All of the children went into entertainment with the boys - Michael, Marlon, Jackie, Tito, and Jermaine (and later Randy) - forming the very successful Jackson 5. Sisters Rebbie, LaToya, and Janet performed at times with their siblings and went on to solo careers as did each of the brothers.
When Hard Rock Casino International planned to build a new casino in Northwest Indiana along I-80/94 in Gary, there was no question that there had to be a big focus on the Jacksons. The family was on board and very cooperative with the efforts to highlight their family’s role in rock-n-roll history at this new venue.
“Gary is the birthplace of Michael Jackson, so with Hard Rock being so infused and in tune with the music, it just made sense the family would be involved,” said Mark Arnold, Hard Rock Cafe General Manager at Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana. “And it wasn’t like a tug of war or anything. They were more than happy to come out and support us. It really inspired the community and our team members to come and work here. They helped us out with memorabilia and promoting the casino. We were very fortunate to have the Jackson family’s support.”
The Hard Rock brand originated in 1971 in London and has since grown to have venues in 75 countries, including 180 cafes, 24 hotels, and 11 casinos. It was started by two Americans, Isaac Tigrett and Peter Morton, who were brought together by their love of American food and rock n’ roll. Their vision was to create a cafe that embraced everyone, no matter their background, and to unify the world.
The cafes are filled with rock n’ roll memorabilia - clothing, instruments, records, and more by some of the biggest artists and legends in the music industry. “The whole place is a museum,” said Arnold.
A centerpiece of the Gary casino is a guitar that had belonged to patriarch Joe Jackson and that his sons would sneak and use to make music - the early makings of what would become the Jackson 5. It is displayed with costumes worn by the Jackson 5.
In the casino's Hard Rock Cafe, you can also view the red jacket that Michael Jackson wore in the “Beat It” video, one of his glittery gloves, and a pair of shoes he danced to his famous “moonwalk” move in. Over the cafe’s stage are the words “We’re Here To Entertain,” a line attributed to the Jacksons. Also scrolled around the stage are four philosophies of the Hard Rock Cafe International: “All Is One,” “Love All, Serve All,” Take Time To Be Kind” and “Save the Planet.”
On the menu, in the cafe, you’ll find the “The Triumph” Famous Jacksons’ Chicken Sandwich. The recipe was developed as a collaboration between
“We wanted to make sure it was what the brothers wanted,” said Arnold. “The brothers collectively agreed on finalizing the sandwich. We made a couple of tweaks on the culinary side, but they said it was a go. The name alone gives it that charisma and sparks that interest.”
The oversized, double-fried, panko-coated chicken breast is brushed in honey and served with pickled red onion, frisée lettuce, and a spicy aioli sauce in between a toasted brioche bun along with freshly-seasoned fries.
Arnold said it is one of the most popular menu items - sharing the stage with massive steakburgers, sizzling fajitas, crispy chicken tenders, tangy mac and cheese, savory salads, and more.
For more information on the casino and restaurants, visit hardrockcasinonorthernindiana.com.