07 July 2009

To a Closing Hooters

Ok, so I’m gonna get serious on your ass for this post, bear with me!

Reading the Mayor of Wingville’s blog lately, I couldn’t help but notice the increasing amount of news regarding Hooters restaurants closing

Inside of a Hooters restaurant in Chattanooga,...

around the nation. This led me to begin thinking about what makes a Hooters successful and why some restaurants flounder while others flourish; what separates a success from a failure?

Now I realize that our currently economic climate leaves a lot to be desired. As a college graduate of the class of 2008, I – along with many of my friends – will be the first to tell you that our economy is in the shitter. After searching endlessly for a job within my major, I ended up at Hooters with an eye toward seeking a law degree. Basically, I decided, after unsuccessfully job seeking with a resume filled with all the right internships, G.P.As and references, that I had to do something above and beyond to distinguish myself. Enter law school.

That brings me back to Hooters. What makes a successful Hooters with staying power? Just as I need to differentiate myself as a job seeker, Hooters needs to differentiate as a restaurant. And this is the very basis of Hooters, differentiation. Everyone knows that Hooters is not Hooters because of the food; I mean lets be honest here, the food at Hooters is certainly not stellar. Hooters is Hooters because of its distinct environment and wait staff. These very distinctions allow Hooters to have continued success as a chain. Simply put, Hooters has found what’s it good at and stuck to it.

So why the sporadic closing of Hooters restaurants around the nation? Yes, there are certain environmental and economical factors that vary from place to place but for a minute lets ignore that. This Hooters Girl is of the opinion that these restaurants have forgotten what they’re good at. Think for a moment about the Hooters you’ve visited and what they were like. There was lots of fried food and pretty girls, but there was so much more. That so much more was personality. It was the snarky yet flirty attitude of your server as she sat at your high top table. It was the dancing and singing that erupted spontaneously. It was the fun you had.

Now imagine a Hooters where it’s just the food. Yeah the girls are pretty but they’re boring and offer the same service as the Applebee’s across the street. There is no dancing and most certainly no singing. So my question is, in a Hooters like that, what makes it Hooters? I’ve been to a few Hooters and my first experience with the place was in a restaurant like I just described. It was late March and the restaurant was just as cold and uninviting as the weather. My reaction was to never go back.

My whole point returns to the fact that Hooters has recognized the importance of differentiation. Unfortunately, some restaurants in the Hooters chain simply fail to deliver on what makes Hooters special. Maybe they can’t find staff with the right combination of looks and personality. Maybe the managers are too busy looking at the bottom line. Maybe they’ve been open too long and simply got lazy. Whatever the case it very well could be that these restaurants failed because they are no longer Hooters, but rather just another greasy spoon with crappy food. So here’s to keeping Hooters, Hooters and realizing that you don’t really go for the wings, but rather the experience.


  1. I posted on another blog but will add some to yours...
    I travel a great deal and work in the Sales field. There are times when, as a man, I want to go somewhere where I can see pretty girls with great personalities and feel somewhat "special" again. With that said, I have been to Hooters in several states and have found that servers sometimes don't get it.
    When I come into a Hooters, I want food and beer, of course, but I am usually alone and am just interested in being in a fun environment. Occasionally the servers hit the mark and chat with me (I am not a troll BTW) I know the difference between the role Hooters Girls play and real life. Not looking to date Hooters Girls... just looking for someone to chat me up, be sarcastic, be interesting edgy, be themselves.
    With that said, there are several Hooters I will likely not return to: As an example, Nashville Downtown Hooters has had horrible service and no energy, at least the times I have visited.
    So the death of a restaurant is mainly due to bad hiring.
    For the "girls" reading this, energy gets me happy and I tip better when happy. I bring customers into that Hooters for happy hours and I bring co-workers also. So please keep the energy up even though you are having a crappy day, Hooters Girl is a role you play.

  2. Excellent take - even-handed and level-headed: qualities that become lawyers and Hooter girls in equal measure! Actually, I think there's a lot of reasons that Sauce's analysis is right on, and not only about Hooters. For instance, see this commentary by the Zagats:

    "Over the years that we've spent surveying hundreds of thousands of
    diners, one fact becomes clear: Service is *the* weak link in the
    restaurant industry. How do we know? Roughly 70% of all complaints we receive relate to service."


    Obviously the dynamics are going to be a bit different at Hooters, but the basic point stands.

    Actually, in a way, I think it holds even more so for Hooters. Because while common sense will tell you that attractive waitresses are part of what make the Hooters experience, I think that some places err by hiring girls just for the "look". Obviously employees need to be attractive, but I would say that some managers should worry less about looks, and more about whether a girl is going to be able to have fun at her job, joke with customers, have a genuine smile, etc.

  3. You are absolutely right. We don't do shit at the Steakhouse. When one girl has 14 tables she certainly doesn't have time to sit and chat. We would probably get in trouble if we did anyways.
    My restaurant has the motto (that makes me want to rip my eyes out every time I hear it) "if you have time to lean you have time to clean"
    So instead of being friendly with our tables and making them fell special, were in the back scrubbing grout with our toothbrushes.



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