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EVER WONDER WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE WWE RESTAURANT?

By Mike Johnson on 2013-01-11 15:45:26
Every now and then, PWInsider.com gets questions asking about what happened to former wrestling venues and facilities. Well, PWInsiderTV this week brings you back to a venue that boasted it was "proudly serving Mankind since 1999", the WWE restaurant in New York City:

Some history on the facility:

Standing on the corner of Broadway and West 43rd, the former Paramount Theater is now the flagship location for the Hard Rock Cafe chain.

WWF New York opened in the winter of 1999 and despite the wrestling theme, it featured relatively little WWE-related memorabilia in the facility. The menus were not wrestling-themed and beyond the retail store and a small Andre the Giant handprint where fans could measure their hands against, you'd never guess you were inside a wrestling eatery unless you went there on a night there was a special event.

They did hold events. Sunday Night Heat was broadcast there for two years (2000-2002) and the restaurant would regularly host appearances from WWE personalities, usually as part of TV broadcasts like Raw, Smackdown and PPV events. When WWE taped TV in NYC, they would occasionally do angles leading performers from the Arena to the restaurant and back as well.

Perhaps the most memorable yet forgotten moment from the facility on WWE TV featured Samuel L. Jackson in character from his Shaft remake protecting Crash Holly against Vince McMahon's stooges in a fight scene filmed at the restaurant.

WWF New York also regularly hosted signings, usually when new books and DVDs related to performers were released.

The facility was also used for several WWE TV special events including the Raw 10th Anniversary broadcast and several Tough Enough finale specials.

Beyond WWE programming, it was also used for concerts (Chris Jericho's band Fozzy did play there) and was turned into a nightclub titled The World on Saturdays, which is where the later name change came in to tie into WWF's transition into WWE.

Despite the popularity of the Attitude era when the facility was launched, it was never a huge success. It was originally conceived as something WWE would license out but when the original operators failed to get the already publicly announced property going, the company took it over and ran it themselves.

The most popular nights there were when PPVs were broadcast as for $125 fans could get VIP seating, a three course gourmet meal, sit in front of a huge screen to watch the screen & take the PPV home chair. There were also $50 GA seating for the same events where fans could eat from a buffet line and watch the show on one of the many, many TV screens in the facility.

The restaurant would also host screenings of Raw and Smackdown as well as the UK only PPVs of the day, but on days where there was no regular WWE appearances or screenings, the restaurant would do far less business than you'd expect a Times Square based themed eatery to do.

The company finally closed the restaurant in February 2003 and shuttered the associated store in April of the same year. The Hard Rock Cafe took over the property in 2006 and has remained there since renovating it. The Cafe has remained one of the top themed restaurants in NYC, out-living just about every other known themed property, including ESPN Zone, Planet Hollywood, Jekyll & Hyde and Mars 2112.

In the coming weeks and months, PWInsiderTV will bring you lots of other similar features. What former venues would you like to see us feature? Comment at PWInsiderTV.com.