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Hard Rock’s first employee attends celebration at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino


TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Rita Gilligan is 79 years old but says she still feels 29.

Gilligan, a former waitress, was the first employee of a Hard Rock Café when the first location opened in London in 1971 inside an old Rolls Royce dealership.

“I mean who would’ve thought in 1971, we got a lease of £5,000 for three months. And here we are nearly a half a century and we’re still rocking the world,” Gilligan exclaimed during her visit to the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tampa.

Gilligan was in attendance during Thursday’s celebration festivities for new renovations.

She told 8 On Your Side’s Daisy Ruth she has helped open about 160 Hard Rock locations around the world. Gilligan was just in Malaysia last week.

“We rocked it! Today I’m here in gorgeous Tampa, the weather is shining and the place is electric and it’s amazing,” she said.

The Seminole Tribe of Florida acquired Hard Rock International in March 2007. Gilligan said she’s thankful for the Seminole tribe, saying they saved the brand.

“I’ve got the best job in the world!” she exclaimed. “That’s what keeps me alive. Keeps the spirit going. And it’s rock and roll and music that’s the medicine of life.”

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