Harry Morton, Restaurateur and Founder of Pink Taco Chain, Dies at 38

Morton was the former owner of the Viper Room, where River Phoenix died of an overdose in 1993

Last Updated: November 24, 2019 @ 1:53 PM

Harry Morton, restaurateur and founder of the Los Angeles Mexican food restaurant chain Pink Taco, was found dead in his Beverly Hills home on Saturday. He was 38.

Morton’s younger brother Matthew found the mogul unresponsive and called paramedics, who pronounced him dead at the scene. According to the Beverly Hills Police Department, there was no evidence of foul play, and an autopsy is pending to uncover the cause of death.

“We are saddened by the passing of Harry Morton, the founder and former owner of Pink Taco,” a company spokesperson said in a statement. “Harry was a visionary and restaurateur ahead of his time, and his contributions, both professionally to our brand and personally to those he worked with, were numerous. Our thoughts and condolences are with his family and friends during this difficult time.”

Morton is a third-generation restaurateur. His father, Peter, co-founded the Hard Rock Café chain in 1971 in London, which as of 2018 had venues in 74 countries, including 185 cafes, 25 hotels and 12 casinos. Morton’s grandfather, Arnie, launched the Playboy Club with Hugh Hefner and Victor Lowne in 1960 and founded Morton’s Steakhouse in 1978.

Harry got an early start in the family business by opening his first Pink Taco when he was just 18. Less than a decade later, he purchased The Viper Room, where actor River Phoenix died of an overdose in 2008.

This past March, Morton purchased Elvis Presley’s 5,367-square-foot former estate in Beverly Hills for a cool $25.46 million. The gated compound had previously been owned by Morton’s father, who sold it in 2014.

Morton’s romantic life also made headlines through the years. He dated a number of Hollywood actresses, including Lindsay Lohan, Demi Moore, Jennifer Aniston, Britney Spears and Paris Hilton.

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