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Celebrity Los Angeles Restaurateur Harry Morton Found Dead at 38

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Morton was an heir to Morton’s Steakhouse and Hard Rock Cafe, and owned national chain Pink Taco

“The Painting Factory” MOCA Artists’ Dinner
Harry Morton, at left, with father Peter
Photo by Chelsea Lauren/WireImage
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

Celebrity restaurateur Harry Morton has died. Morton came from a long line of prominent Los Angeles restaurant owners, and had himself founded the Pink Taco casual Mexican food chain, with locations in LA, Las Vegas, Boston, and Chicago. TMZ was first to break the news of the 38-year-old’s death on Sunday.

On the restaurant side, Morton was perhaps most famously known for founding his Pink Taco chain with a prominent location in the heart of the Sunset Strip, and a first 2007 location at the Westfield Century City. Over the years, the company became known occasionally for its parties and outlandish stunts, including once drawing the ire of animal rights activists for fully painting a live donkey pink to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.

Morton’s grandfather, Arnold J. Morton, founded the Morton’s Steakhouse chain in 1978. Harry’s father, Peter Morton, co-founded Hard Rock Cafe restaurants, and Harry himself long owned the iconic Viper Room music venue and bar, also on the Sunset Strip.

A cause of death has not yet been revealed for the 38-year-old Morton, though Pink Taco has sent along the following statement to TMZ:

We are saddened by the passing of Harry Morton, the founder and former owner of Pink Taco. 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.