Inquisitive Elks

The rambling scrawlings of a modern cave-painter.


I have another blog which is my “main” one – a lot more updates, here – and I have no control of which adverts pop up  – but recently I have noticed that HARD ROCK CAFE have been taking over my page – so with that in mind I would like to re-post this blog from a while ago, all about Hard Rock Cafe – enjoy!


Not everyone is aware, but workers in Sweden are protected by many laws and rights. However just because they are written down doesn’t mean that everyone follows them or won’t find a way round them.

Today I will do my own little expose on one of the world’s most popular chain restaurants and how they work/treat their staff in Stockholm Sweden.


Most of you will know the Hard Rock Cafe started off in the 80s with a fun idea in London and then spread all over the world. Some world tourists must find a Hard Rock Cafe as soon as they visit a new country. So, Hard Rock Cafe was founded on certain principles, however…”the man” runs it now. The following is true of the Hard Rock Cafe in Stockholm when I worked there a few years ago.

All Hard Rock Cafe’s have the following mottos:


They have no recycling program. Receipts are printed in triplicate, the third one if thrown away. Bleached, white paper napkins are used. Plastic cups are used, these are disposed after use. Waste food is thrown away. Take-away boxes are made from Styrofoam. Most packaging is plastic or paper.


Immigrant staff are preferred, especially English, American, Australian etc. Partly because of the amount of tourists that visit the cafe. However, speaking Swedish is not a requirement. Since this is one of the only jobs a non-Swedish speaking immigrant can take the powers that be have control. More on this later.

The cleaning staff and kitchen staff and all “lesser” jobs positions are held by Asian, Hispanic or black workers.

By the way, these sayings all come from one of the founder members (Issac Tigrett) guru. Issac is a Hindu and a member of the Audarya Fellowship. It was a requirement that there was a picture of Vishnu in every Hard Rock Cafe. However, after 911 HRC in Stockholm took Vishnu away because they wanted to avoid anything that might be seen as connected….

…yup. Muslim, Hindu…it’s all the same right.


All employees of HRC are expected to be able to fill several roles. In fact in the handbook it tells us that “that is not my job” isn’t a phrase used at the Cafe. However this is often used as an excuse to have the the staff do all manner of shitty jobs that really shouldn’t be their job, leaving them overworked and rushed. Some do in fact find the time to be kind, most are just stressed.

The average worker has no control over their cash register and to do anything such as a return, a refund, a discount etc it demands a manager to enter a code. The managers are rarely available when they are “on duty”, they are usually doing “important manager work” which is usually sitting on the internet or eating. This holds up the customers for a long time, making everyone more stressed.

The managers also train in Hard Rock Cafe standards. These are however catered only to the Cafe’s in America and therefore do not always work in Stockholm. For example, we had shelves of T-shirts that fit, folded onto our shelves. The HRC “standard” was to fold them to X=cm. However this was because that was the size of THEIR shelves. However, we still had to do it. Making our tees fall over every 5th minute.


Lets go back to how one is employed at the HRC. Now, when I first moved to Stockholm it was impossible to find work. However, HRC and just opened up a new tourist store that was in a separate location to the Cafe and the boss was also from the UK, he took pity on me and offered me a job.

  • My wage was 85 kronor an hour. Before tax. There is no minimum wage in Sweden yet this is very much under the average. The overtime was also based on the restaurant overtime, despite it being a stand-alone store. After a while myself and some of the other workers were approached by a shop union who saw how our wages and overtime was a complete joke. The staff worked long hours, evenings, weekends and “red days” (holiday days) without legal overtime or pay.
  • The bosses caught wind of us speaking to the union and told us that anyone who joined the union would lose their job. They also told us that they would add a Coke machine or Snack Machine to the shop so they could class it as a restaurant and therefore avoid paying us the legal wage for shop worker.
  • In an attempt to be a good worker, when I worked at the other shop (located in the cafe) I offered to learn the booking system so that I could help out a bit more. This was an act of help and I made it clear I would do it to help and not as a part of my job. Sometimes I was asked to clean the windows, tables etc after this. I did complain that I had my own job to do. Future shop workers signed a contract telling them they were required to also clean and help out in the cafe.
  • When my boss left I was put in charge of inventory and training new staff. I never received a pay rise despite asking several times.
  • Promotions were always hired from outside. For example, despite having several English speaking employees they hired a “PR” woman who went straight onto a managers wage. Her sole job was once every few weeks to design a poster to promote whatever event was coming up. Every time the spelling and grammar needed to be changed, after they had printed up a batch.
  • After working for three years I trained up a guy from a rich background, who then became my boss.
  • There was at one point a mugging in the shop at night. A young girl was held at knife point and forced to hand over all the money from the cash register. To combat this in the future they bosses decided that every time we got a 1000 or 500 Kronor note we should take it to the safe. This of course, protects their money, but not their staff.
  • If the money at the end of the day didn’t add up, it was taken from the staff’s personal wages.
  • To protect the safe and money, CCTV cameras were placed in the store. There was also one secretly hidden behind the air vent in the room with the safe. This was also the room the staff used as a changing room. This is illegal in Sweden.


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