31 May 2011

My Hooters Girl Touched Me, Is She Flirting?

The following question appeared in my inbox the other day and I thought it was definitely worth addressing.  Remember if you have your own Hooters question (or Sauce question or life question or random conversation) either email me or visit my Formspring and ask away!

Are there rules or recommendations against servers at Hooter's making physical contact with their guests?  I had my (regular) server trail her fingers across my back as she walked by me tonight.  This seems to cross a line between playful flirtation and actually leading on a guest.  What's your take on this?

This would be inappropriate for example.  CREDIT.
My initial answer to your question regarding contact between Hooters Girls and customers would be that I don’t think it’s appropriate in most cases.  I don’t think it’s necessarily because the action is leading, but because it’s simply out of place in the restaurant work environment.  Would it be out of place for your waitress to touch you at TGI Friday’s?  Why would Hooters be any different?  Specifically, in a place such as Hooters where a guest touching the girls is often deemed inappropriate, it seems rather necessary for the policy to work both ways to avoid confusion.

Now all that being said, the situation can get a little confusing when it comes to regulars – as you’ve pointed out you are.  With the increased familiarity of a regular customer, physical contact becomes a lot more commonplace.  However, this is generally very innocent and usually acceptable in my opinion because it never crosses the line.  These are situations where I am very mindful and still keep the contact to a minimum just to avoid any confusion like you’ve mentioned.  An innocent gesture to some and be taken so differently by others so nine times out of ten it’s best to just be avoided.

So do I think she was leading you on specifically?  Obviously being that I wasn’t a part of the situation I can’t say for sure, but based on what you’ve told me (most specifically your regular status) I’d say that her actions were not meant to be leading.  I think it was just a motion made out of familiarity.  Of course I can never know for sure.

What all this does tell me though, is how careful Hooters Girls – and far more broadly women in general – have to be in their customer interactions.  A thoughtless gesture or assertion can easily be taken in a light that was never intended.  Especially when you’re a pretty girl paid to show off your outgoing personality.  Flirting and fun seem to skirt an awfully thin line.


  1. I wish I had time to search for it, but I'm surfing on my phone at work. IIRC, there have been some studies that showed that even minor physical contact ( like a touch on the shoulder) increases tips for servers.

    Since he's a regular, maybe the OP could just ask. I'm a big believer in clarifying things. Yeah, it's a very adult conversation to have, and lots of people are uncomfortable with those; but a simple, non-judgemental, "Was that just incidental contact or something more?" would make things clear. And maybe open up some possibilities... :-)

  2. Sorry, I am have worked in and [obviously] eaten out at all types of restaurants.

    Two rules: Do not touch the guests and do not touch the servers.

    I don't want to be touched in either instance - and it isn't going to up their tip if they touch me or one of my family members. Especially don't touch me when I served. NO.

    That way, no confusion - if the server is interested in the guest there are other means to make the interest known.

    No, the waitress wasn't flirting or making an interest known - and regardless of the venue [Hooters or a TGIFs] don't touch the guests.

  3. I touch my guests all the time, actually! :) I usually do a gentle touch on the shoulder - it's not something I think about, I do it instinctively. Like when I say something such as,

    "I'm so sorry the food is taking so long, but it should be out shortly!"

    No one really seems to mind, at least where I'm from! (I'm from the south, so perhaps it's more commonplace here?) I do it to both men and women! Kids will often reach out and touch me, and I'll hold their hand and play with them for a bit. :) It doesn't mean anything when I do it, but I could see perhaps how someone could misinterpret it. Haven't had a single issue so far, though!

  4. I am in the south too zelbess and still find it disconcerting to be touch - while I served or while be waiting on. Kids are an entirely different story. They are fine, of course.

    I would never dream of touching a guest, especially after reading everything on the 'net.

    I think you would be surprised - I would pull away from you in a second if you tried to touch me and please keep your hands on my sons and husband. Thanks! I won't misinterpret it but the polite thing to do is not touch strangers.

  5. Well, that's your two cents, SkippyMom. I can understand where you are coming from, but it's worked just fine for me! What is considered "polite" is very subjective and dependent upon your culture and upbringing. I've had no negative reactions. Keep in mind, though, I'm a Hooters Girl, and that's a very different environment than most places!

    In reverse, I don't mind if my regulars give me a friendly side hug or pat on the back or anything like that! :) An innocent gesture is nothing to throw dramatics over, in my humble opinion.

  6. Coming into this conversation late; as much as I personally see no reason for waitresses and customers to get physical, the original commenter was correct. Michael Lynn from the Cornell University School of Hospitality ran studies that showed touching the customer can increase tips. He is also the reason that some restaurants, including Applebee's, train their waitresses to squat at the table. Eye contact on the same level as the customer increases tips. (I despise both behaviors...)

  7. Nicely said, Not bad at all! Interesting piece of information. I find it to be honest, useful and fresh so thank you so much for posting this!

  8. They all flirt to a point...it helps with tips. I've experienced similar things while being out at bars and a restaurant that is like Hooters. I wouldn't read too much into it. I imagine each franchise interprets their policies differently.

  9. I think that's a good sign, sometimes is hard to feel if someones flirting with you. Thanks.

  10. This is definitely a good post indeed! Maybe that's a sign for you to go with her. Or maybe you can check this site plentyoffish.com maybe it can help you.



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