Not a lot of people are into the whole idea of a breastaurant; it’s not something you would openly discuss with your parents over dinner, or worse, during a family function. However, in a world where just about every restaurant on the block is on a primal hunt to come off as a family friendly establishment, one famous restaurant decided to take the unconventional road, going down in history as “the breastaurant” of America. Ever since its inception, its child-inappropriate format has gained popularity with many other establishments taking inspiration from them, but Hooters is where it all started.
Back in 1983, on Fool’s Day, six Clearwater, Florida businessmen with little to no restaurant experience founded Hooters. The first Hooters was opened on a site of a former run-down nightclub in Clearwater. In the years that followed, the business changed hands to the current owners, two privately held companies which came together to form ‘Hooters Inc’. Hooters got so popular at one point it had a total of 460 locations in 25 different countries.
While a lot of people were turned off by the idea of a restaurant that has female waitresses in revealing skin-tight uniforms, the history of this restaurant is full of weird untold truths that even the most hesitant person would want to give it a chance.
Despite being the first ever restaurant of its kind, Hooters has faced severe competition from Twin Peaks, Tilted Kilt, and Brick House among others, who have adopted their model but further enhanced it. But despite their tweaking of the Hooter’s “Breastaurant” style, it remains one of America’s most successful and recognizable restaurant, still running by their popular motto, “Delightfully tacky.”
There’s a lot behind its success, and in case you are wondering, here are ten untold truths about America’s mother of the “Breastaurants.”
10. The First Hooters Calendar was in 1986
Ever thought of buying your local restaurant calendar? You get those for free right? Well, we all know how popular the Hooters calendar is. It’s a business that runs parallel to the main business (skimpily-dressed waitresses, serving drinks and wings).
The first ever Hooters’ calendar edition sold 2500 copies in the first year. Currently, the distribution for the Hooters calendars is estimated at around half a million, making the Hooters calendar one of the best-selling calendars of its time.
You are probably wondering what makes the Hooters calendar stand out. Well, none of the women posing on those calendars are not models, in fact, they are servers at Hooters restaurants. If you are persistent enough, or completely out of your mind, you could get served by all those beautiful women in the calendar. But, you will have to visit all Hooters restaurants in 25 countries.
Yet another thing that sets the Hooters calendar apart from its competitor swimsuit calendars is that the months are out of order. The trick here is to get people to flip through the entire calendar multiple times while trying to get the right month. Doing that over a year will make you revisit older photos again and again.
9. Hooters Was Inspired by Saturday Night Live
You might have wondered how a bunch of 6 businessmen from Clearwater, Florida managed to come up with a name that was so cleverly matched up to its significance back in 1983. Today, coining a name to hit the market as hard as Hooters did will take a string of creatives and a PR budget. What you probably don’t know is that the name came so easily, you just had to be keen enough, industrious, market aggressive, and apparently from Clearwater to hit the nail on the head.
It might come as a shocker, but the name Hooters was actually inspired by a Steve Martin monologue that featured in the May 17th 1980 episode of Saturday Night Live. In the monologue, which was titled, “I believe” he said, “I believe its derogatory to refer to the breasts as boobs, jugs, golden bozoz, winnebagos, and that they should only be referred to as hooters”. With that slightly comical and obscene statement made on television, the world-famous Hooters restaurant idea was born.
Hooters probably owe the success of their business to Steve Martin; it would be a pity if he didn’t live to reap from the success of his genius. At least he gets the credit.
8. There’s a Secret Server Menu
Hooters is popular for its sports theme, beer, and wings. You can ask anyone about Hooters, and those three things won’t be left out of their statement. They have changed their menu, opened up spaces in their restaurants, and caught up with the current restaurant world. Hooters even serve healthier meals nowadays and let’s not forget what we all go there for, the servers, who are as amazing as ever. It’s probably crossed your mind what kind of diet their gorgeous servers are on. I mean, you keep getting chubbier on their wings, but they just get better looking, and skinnier by the day.
While chicken is perhaps the most popular food ordered at their counters, it’s very unlikely that their pretty servers are on that diet. In fact, it’s rumored that Hooters has a secret server menu known as the ‘Spa menu’ that the servers are entitled to for free during their regular shifts. The menu consists of vegetables, salmon, chicken and a bunch of other low-fat items. In case a server craves for the fried chicken or any other item on the restaurant menu that’s unhealthy, they would have to pay for it. That’s the golden rule. And frankly, it works! What’s more, if you gain a few pounds and fail to fit the uniform fitting evaluation, the restaurant offers a free gym membership to tone down. The company is taking no chances in ensuring it meets its desired reputation.
7. Hooters Owners Were Convinced it Would Fail
It’s hard to think of something that would kill the Hooters vibe. It’s an idea so remarkable that its bad reputation was overtaken by its popularity. Think of it this way; this is a restaurant that was looked down upon and thought to be the most immoral form of food service ever invented on the planet. It’s like what modern day people would think about eating a family fun meal like pizza in a strip club. You would probably have to get into an uptight 1983 mindset to get how crazy this idea might have been for the founders. 35 years down the line, Hooters is the most successful business of its kind.
Back in 1983, things weren’t any easier, and the original Hooter 6 as they are known were sure there was no way on earth their idea would live to see light. They felt their idea so ridiculous they opened the restaurant on April Fools Day. What’s funny, is they even went ahead and constructed a small graveyard on the property. An acknowledgment, and honor to all the businesses that failed at the same site. Little did they know, they had just created an indestructible restaurant of its kind that would grow into a $2 billion industry franchise.
6. What’s So Memorable About your Hooter’s Experience?
Hooters has a culture, and it’s probably what makes them so successful. While they drown in controversy and are always on the front-end of the female objectification battle, they have stuck with their culture and took it seriously. Their servers are always hot, there’s no doubt about that, and they won’t compromise on it. They would rather sell you unhealthy food than not have pretty looking, skin-tight wearing servers.
That said, since its birth, the Hooters logo has uniquely been an owl. The two eyes represent the “OO” in the Hooters, and it’s a perfect trademark anywhere on this continent. The owl, it goes without saying, is clearly a nod to the sound the bird makes. The logo on the other hand, under harsh criticism, has been likened too much like a person, and more specifically, hooters. However, it doesn’t matter if you find its motto delightfully tacky, blunt and inappropriate, not everyone knows the owl’s name is Hootie, which frankly is adorable. To add onto that, every single Hooters girl knows how to draw Hootie with ketchup; you wouldn’t qualify without that mad skill. It’s part of the training program.
5. The First Ever Hooter Girl Got her Job as the Result of a Bet
So many truths about the Hooters story seem like pure fiction, it’s almost like their story was orchestrated into a narrative so perfect that it could only fit into a blockbuster movie. The owners better think about signing a movie contract, because this is a movie that is destined to be a hit!
Apart from the sideshows and the lawsuits, they have a good story, and the weird bits such as how the name was adopted, or the fact that the restaurant was opened on April Fool’s Day, just makes for an incredible story. Well, here’s one more untold truth.
The first Hooters girl was hired on a bet. It seems the original Hooter 6 loved the thought of taking chances. While watching the Clearwater beach Jose Cuervo bikini contest, one of the original Hooter 6 members bet his buddies he could convince the winner of the contest to be the first Hooters Girl. And just like the other chances they took, she accepted. Lynn, who won the bikini contest, soon left her job as a telephone operator and accepted the job as the first Hooters waitress. It did not end there for her, she appeared in several Hooters ads and even become a Playboy centerfold. If there is anything the original six had, it was the Midas touch.
4. Hooters Servers Are Hired Entertainers
You have to admit that Hooters servers aren’t your average waitresses. They are more like models than actual servers. This alone makes their restaurant a whole lot different than any other restaurant you will have been to. You have probably wondered, how do they get hired? Do they hold auditions? How do they even advertise for vacancies? Does the ad go like “You have to be pretty?”. It definitely has to be a total human resource nightmare for those working at Hooters. Since its really hard to compare experience and looks to get the Hooters desired credentials. What you might not know is that Hooters servers are hired as entertainers.
Hooters have been under a lot of heat and had to settle many lawsuits for discrimination in their hiring process. However, their company seems to have found a loophole they could use to hire servers without getting into any discriminatory legal suits.
The company explained in a statement that, while they offer world famous wings and burgers, the essence of their business is the Hooters Girl and the experience which she offers the customers. They hold auditions for their roles, and once the girls are hired, they are expected to keep a glamorous appeal, dance, and sing, offering Hooters customers a unique experience. This easily got them off the hook.
3. Hooters Had a TV Show
Hooters are as much in the entertainment business as they are in the restaurant business. They are clearly in their own league. You probably think this is one of their ways to cut corners by avoiding a lawsuit, but you are wrong. The Hooters girls might now be entertainers by American law, but they did in fact at one point in time run a television show.
Back in 1987, Hooters Nite Owl Theatre hit the small screen and for eight years, viewers had the chance to watch Hooters Girls introduce and host a late night cable movie. This particular show was syndicated in 13 major markets globally. It was later renamed Hooters Movie of the Week. This trend continued until 1995 after yet another legal tussle.
2. Hooters Girls Must Have Their Hair Down at All Times
Many restaurants around the world emphasize that their servers wear their hair up for sanitary reasons, and also to avoid health violations. But at Hooters, it’s the complete opposite. All the servers are required to wear their hair down for every single shift. You will never find a Hooters server with her hair up; it doesn’t matter how busy she is at any given time.
They are also not allowed to change their hair. Once a Hooters girl was fired for highlighting her hair. However, at the end of the day, Hooters ended up paying $250,000 when the courts ruled in her favor. Hooters servers also need to follow strict uniform rules, including nail polish and scrunching their socks in the right fashion among many other tiny details.
1. Hooters Has Been Sued Multiple Times
Hooters has had their fair share of lawsuits. These things have a way of following successful businesses. Men are not a big part of Hooters, not as servers at least. However, men do work at Hooters as kitchen staff, bussers, and even hosts. The restaurant has stood its ground that hiring men as servers would go badly against the entire premise, and this has landed the restaurant into a lot of problems.
Back in 1997, four men from Maryland and three men from Chicago sued the company after they were denied employment opportunities. As you have guessed, they received compensation for not getting hired as servers in 2009. At this rate, Hooters should just open a new department to deal with suits; they just keep coming.
Although this may be the case, it is safe to say that Hooters remains one of the most successful restaurant franchises of its time. There are locations all over the country, and let’s face it, we have all wanted to visit one even if it is purely out of curiosity. Not only do they have beautiful waitresses on hand to tend to your every need, but a fantastic menu of all American classics to get your taste buds going. if you have yet to visit a Hooters location, then there is no time like the present. This is something that should absolutely be on every bucket list, even if it is purely for the entertainment value rather than the food. One thing is for sure, a visit to any of the Hooters locations around the country is going to be a meal that you will not be forgetting in a hurry.