SAVE THE HOOTERS LONG SLEEVE T-SHIRT
American restaurant chain
This article is about the two restaurant chains collectively using the shared Hooters brand. For other uses, see Hooters (disambiguation).
|Founded||October 4, 1983; 38 years ago (1983-10-04)|
Clearwater, Florida, US
|Founders||Lynn D. Stewart|
|Headquarters||Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.|
Number of locations
|Products||Burgers, chicken wings, seafood, tex mex, full bar|
Hooters is the registered trademark used by two American restaurant chains: Hooters, Inc., based in Clearwater, Florida, and Hooters of America, Inc. based in Atlanta, Georgia and owned by the private investment firm Nord Bay Capital (with TriArtisan Capital Advisor, as its advisor). The Hooters name is a double entendre referring to both a North American slang term for women's breasts and the logo (a bird known for its "hooting" calls: the owl). Hooters also had an airline, Hooters Air, with a normal flight crew and flight attendants and scantily clad "Hooters Girls" on every flight.
The waiting staff at Hooters restaurants are primarily young women, usually referred to simply as "Hooters Girls", whose revealing outfits and sex appeal are played up and are a primary component of the company's image. The company employs men and women as cooks, hosts (at some franchises), busboys, and managers. The menu includes hamburgers and other sandwiches, steaks, seafood entrees, appetizers, and the restaurant's specialty, chicken wings. Almost all Hooters restaurants hold alcoholic beverage licenses to sell beer and wine, and where local permits allow, a full liquor bar. Hooters T-shirts, sweatshirts, and various souvenirs and curios are also sold.
In 2015, Hooters announced that it is planning to open more than 30 restaurants in Southeast Asia over the next six years.[needs update]
As of 2016[update], there were more than 430 Hooters locations and franchises around the world and Hooters of America LLC. owns 160 units. In 2012, there were Hooters locations in 44 US states, the US Virgin Islands, Guam, and in 28 other countries.
Hooters, Inc., was incorporated in Clearwater, Florida, on April 1, 1983, by six Clearwater businessmen: Lynn D. Stewart, Gil DiGiannantonio, Ed Droste, Billy Ranieri, Ken Wimmer and Dennis Johnson. The date was an April Fools' Day joke because the original six owners believed that their prospect was going to fail. Their first Hooters restaurant was built on the site of a former rundown nightclub that had been purchased at a low price. So many businesses had folded in that particular location that the Hooters founders built a small "graveyard" at the front door for each that had come and gone before them. The first restaurant opened its doors on October 4, 1983, in Clearwater. This original location was decorated with memorabilia from Waverly, Iowa, hometown to some of the original Hooters 6.
In 1984, Hugh Connerty bought the rights to Hooters from the Original Hooters 6. Robert H. Brooks and a group of Atlantan investors (operators of Hooters of America, Inc.) bought out Hugh Connerty. In 2002, Brooks bought majority control and became chairman. The Clearwater-based company retained control over restaurants in the Tampa Bay Area, Chicago metropolitan area, and one in Manhattan, New York, while all other locations were under the aegis of Hooters of America, which sold franchising rights to the rest of the United States and international locations. Under Brooks's leadership, the collective Hooters brand expanded to more than 425 stores worldwide. Brooks died on July 15, 2006, in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, of a heart attack. Brooks's will gave most of Hooters of America Inc. to his son Coby Brooks and daughter Boni Belle Brooks.[dead link]
The Hooters Casino Hotel was opened February 2, 2006, off the Las Vegas Strip in Paradise, Nevada. This hotel has 696 rooms with a 35,000-square-foot (3,300 m2) casino. The hotel is owned and operated by 155 East Tropicana, LLC. It is adjacent to the Tropicana, across the street from the MGM Grand Las Vegas. As of 2014, it is the only Hooters facility offering lodging since a Hooters Inn motel located along Interstate 4 in Lakeland, Florida, was demolished in 2007.
As part of their 25th anniversary, Hooters Magazine released its list of top Hooters Girls of all time. Among the best-known were Lynne Austin (the original Hooters Girl), the late Kelly Jo Dowd (the mother of the golfer Dakoda Dowd), Bonnie-Jill Laflin, Leeann Tweeden, and Holly Madison.
After Brooks' death in 2006, 240 buyers showed interest in Hooters of America Inc., and 17 submitted bids, with that number being reduced to eight, and then three, before the selection of Wellspring Capital Management. Chanticleer Holdings LLC of Charlotte, North Carolina, which had the right to block the sale after a $5 million loan made in 2006, did so in a December 1, 2010, letter to the court. As a result, Chanticleer and other investors bought the company from the Brooks Family 
In January 2011, Chanticleer Holdings LLC of Charlotte, North Carolina and others completed the purchase of Hooters of America Inc. from the Brooks family.
As of July 2013[update], Hooters of America owns 160 restaurants and operates or franchises over 430.
On July 1, 2019, Hooters was sold to Nord Bay Capital and TriArtisan Capital Advisors.
In response to declining sales, in 2017 the company launched a fast casual spinoff of its format called "Hoots". Hoots is distinguished from its original concept primarily by a reduction in menu items and employment of both male and female servers, modestly dressed in t-shirts and khakis.
The appearance of the waitresses is a main selling feature of the restaurant. A Hooters Girl is a waitress employed by the Hooters restaurant chain, and they are recognizable by their uniform of a white tank top with the "Hootie the Owl" logo and the location name on the front paired with short nylon orange runner's shorts. The remainder of the Hooters Girls uniform consists of the restaurant's brown ticket pouch (or a black one with the black uniform), tan pantyhose, white loose socks, and clean white shoes. Men who work at Hooters wear Hooters hats, T-shirts with long pants, Bermuda shorts, or attire more suitable for kitchen use.
Employee handbook requirements
An older version of the Hooters Employee Handbook (prior to October 2006), published in The Smoking Gun reads:
Customers can go to many places for wings and beer, but it is our Hooters Girls who make our concept unique. Hooters offers its customers the look of the "All American Cheerleader, Surfer, Girl Next Door."
Female employees are required to sign that they "acknowledge and affirm" the following:
- My job duties require I wear the designated Hooters Girl uniform.
- My job duties require that I interact with and entertain the customers.
- The Hooters concept is based on female sex appeal and the work environment is one in which joking and entertaining conversations are commonplace.
In 1997, three men from the Chicago area sued Hooters after being denied employment at an Orland Park, Illinois, restaurant. Each of them was awarded $19,100. Four men who filed a similar lawsuit in Maryland received $10,350 each. The settlement allows Hooters to continue attracting customers with its female staff of Hooters Girls. The chain agreed to create other support jobs, like bartenders and hosts, that must be filled without regard to gender.
In 2001, a jury determined Hooters of Augusta Inc. willfully violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act by sending unsolicited advertising faxes. The class-action lawsuit, brought in June 1995 by Sam Nicholson, included 1,320 others who said they received the advertising faxes from Hooters. Atlanta-based Hooters of America Inc., the local restaurant's parent company, paid out $11 million. The jury determined that six faxes were sent to each plaintiff. With a $500 fine for each, that amounts to a $3,000 award per plaintiff.
Also in 2001, Jodee Berry, a waitress at a Hooters in Panama City Beach, Florida won a beer sales contest, for which the promised prize was a new Toyota automobile. However, the manager awarded her a "toy Yoda" instead, claiming the contest was an April Fool's Day joke. Berry filed a lawsuit against Gulf Coast Wings, the local franchisee, and later reached a settlement.
In 2004, it was found that job applicants to a Hooters in West Covina, California, were secretly filmed while undressing, prompting a civil suit filed against the national restaurant chain in Los Angeles Superior Court. The company addressed the incident with additional employee training.
In 2009, Nikolai Grushevski, a man from Corpus Christi, Texas, filed a lawsuit because Hooters would not hire him as a waiter. Grushevski and Hooters reached a confidential settlement on April 13. In September 2009, the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit against a North Carolina charter airline (formerly Hooters Air, owned by Hooters of America) on behalf of Chau Nguyen, an Asian flight attendant fired three years prior after complaining only white workers were being promoted.
In May 2010, a lawsuit was filed against Hooters in Michigan after an employee was given a job performance review and was told that her shirt and short size could use some improvement by two women who held positions at the headquarters in Atlanta. Michigan is the only state that includes height and weight as bounds for non-discrimination in hiring. The plaintiff alleges that she was made the offer of a free gym membership and told that if she did not improve in 30 days, her employment would be terminated. The company denied that they threatened to fire the plaintiffs, and the suit was settled out of court.
In December 2010, as part of the settlement of Robert H. Brooks' estate, a judge in Horry County, South Carolina approved the sale of Hooters of America Inc. to Wellspring Capital Management. The decision did not prevent Charlotte, North Carolina–based Chanticleer Investors LLC from exercising "the right of first refusal" given to Chanticleer in a loan agreement with Hooters.
In 2011, a number of former Hooters executives left to start a Twin Peaks franchise group. Hooters filed suit and alleged that former Hooters executives stole trade secrets and management documents as part as their move to the new restaurant chain. In 2012, former employee Jheri Stratton filed suit after catching the airborne disease tuberculosis from one of her managers.
In 2012 Kisuk Cha, a Korean American immigrant who placed a takeout order at a Hooters in Queens, New York, sued the restaurant chain for racial discrimination after noticing a racial slur printed on a cash register receipt by a hostess who later confessed and subsequently resigned. As of April 2, 2015 (as a result of the Farryn Johnson racial discrimination lawsuit), the case has not been resolved.
On April 2, 2015, former employee Farryn Johnson was awarded $250,000 after an arbitrator found that racial discrimination contributed to her termination. Johnson was terminated in August 2013 after her store manager (from the Hooters in Baltimore, Maryland) told her that she could not have blonde highlights in her hair. Johnson filed a civil rights complaint with the State of Maryland Civil Rights Division where her attorneys stated the applicability of the dress code for African Americans and everyone else (e.g. non-Hispanic Whites, Hispanic/Latino, Asian/Pacific Islander American) where one set of policies pertains to a certain group of people was considered as racial discrimination. A statement from Hooters of America by Ericka Whitaker (Hooters of America senior brand manager) stated that she had no issue of having blonde highlights as a Hooters Girl prior to becoming a brand manager and the company will continue to diversify its employees, from the restaurant to the annual Hooters International Swimsuit Pageant.
In employment discrimination law in the United States, employers are generally allowed to consider characteristics that would otherwise be discriminatory if they are bona fide occupational qualifications (BFOQ). For example, a manufacturer of men's clothing may lawfully advertise exclusively for male models. Hooters has argued a BFOQ defense, which applies when the "essence of the business operation would be undermined if the business eliminated its discriminatory policy".
Hooters has actively supported charities through its Hooters Community Endowment Fund, also known as HOO.C.E.F., a play on UNICEF. It has provided money and/or volunteers to charities such as Habitat for Humanity, The V Foundation for Cancer Research, Operation Homefront, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Special Olympics, Muscular Dystrophy Association and Stop Hunger Now. In addition, after the 2007 death of Kelly Jo Dowd, a former Hooters Girl, Hooters calendar cover girl and later restaurant general manager, Hooters began a campaign in support of breast cancer research, with awareness of the issue being spread through the Kelly Jo Dowd Fund. By 2010 the chain raised over $2 million for the cause.
In 2009, Hooters partnered with Operation Homefront to establish The Valentine Fund in honor of fallen soldier SOCS Thomas J. Valentine. The fund supports the families of US Special Forces service members and other military families. Thomas J. Valentine, a Navy SEAL troop chief, was killed during a training exercise February 13, 2008. He left behind his wife, Christina, and two young children. Hooters established a fund in Valentine's name through Operation Homefront.
Athletics and promotions
Hooters is involved in the sports world. Previous sponsorships include the Miami Hooters, a now defunct Arena Football League team. Hooters formerly sponsored the USAR Hooters Pro Cup, an automobile racing series, and the NGA Pro Golf Tour, a minor league golf tour.
In 1992, Hooters sponsored NASCAR driver Alan Kulwicki as he won the Winston Cup Championship, beating Bill Elliott by ten points, the closest margin in NASCAR prior to The Chase era. On April 1, 1993, Kulwicki, along with several others including Hooters Chairman Bob Brooks' son Mark were killed in a plane crash near Bristol, Tennessee. They were flying back to the track for Sunday's race after making a sponsor appearance at a Hooters in Knoxville, Tennessee. Hooters remained in the sport, sponsoring drivers like Loy Allen Jr., Rick Mast and Brett Bodine before ending their involvement in 2003. The restaurant returned to NASCAR in 2007 to sponsor a Craftsman Truck Series team led by Jason White, Derrike Cope and Brad Keselowski. Six years later, Hooters sponsored Nationwide Series driver Nelson Piquet Jr.'s car. For the 2016 Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway, Hooters made a comeback in the Cup Series with a one-off paint scheme for Greg Biffle. Hooters currently sponsors the No. 9 of Chase Elliott.
Hooters has sponsored the Major League Eating-sanctioned "Hooters Worldwide Wing Eating Championship" since 2012. Hooters has also licensed its name for the Hooters Road TripPlayStation racing game as well as a Hooters Calendar mobile wallpaper application. Oasys Mobile will also be putting out several other games for mobile consumption based on the Hooters Calendar license in 2008. It was also one of several real world brands that appeared in the 2011 video game Homefront.
Since 1986, the restaurant has issued a calendar featuring Hooters Girls, with signings taking place in some of their restaurants. Since 1996, Hooters has held Miss Hooters International Swimsuit Pageant, a competition of Hooters Girls from around the world; in 2010, this event took place in Hollywood, Florida. An African-American woman won the Miss Hooters pageant for the first time in 2010: LeAngela Davis of Columbus, Ohio.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Hooters.|
Hooters waitresses say new uniforms featuring ‘tiny’ shorts took outfit from ‘PG to porn’
Risqué fast food restaurant Hooters has caused a stir after revealing an updated uniform for staff - featuring super-skimpy shorts.
The new dress code was introduced this month and prompted some waitresses to post about it on TikTok.
“So, this is what I’m supposed to be wearing... and I hate it,” 22-year-old Hooters bartender Kirsten Songer said while posting a before-and-after clip on the platform.
“The new black shorts, they do not have a bottom, they have a crotch string. So they sit like this... oh look, a wedgie!
“There is no longer anything covered by these shorts. And this is what the problem with the new shorts is, this is why all of the Hooters girls are upset. Because this is not what I agreed to wear a year ago when I was hired.”
Although the previous uniform did feature short shorts, the new ones are even shorter.
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Songer—who went viral back in July for posting videos showing how she fakes cleavage for work despite having AA-cup breasts— wore her old and new shorts to show the apparent differences in the design.
Waitress Giselle Nguyen, 20, from Texas, filmed herself holding up her old and new shorts, while asking: ‘What’s that supposed to fit?!’ She then posted a before and after video to show the difference with the new uniform.
Another used some dubbed sound to joke that she should quit her job.
Someone else posted a video wearing them - but added a caption saying they weren’t as bad as everyone else was suggesting.
Two Hooters waitresses, one who goes by @eastenciera and the other @katherinenicole830 on TikTok, posted a video of themselves saying that the shorts went from “PG” to “porn.”
Hooters' was founded by six men in 1983 and became infamous for hiring women to serve predominantly male customers while modeling cleavage-baring tank tops and T-shirts.
Indy100 has reached out to Hooters for comment.
Some Hooters servers on TikTok are saying new shorts are too short
A change to the Hooters uniform at some locations has prompted a handful of the restaurant chain's servers to share their concerns on TikTok.
In the videos, which have racked up millions of views since popping up on the platform last week, Hooters servers hold up the new black shorts while sharing their thoughts. Some even describe the shorts as more “like underwear.”
One server, who asked to remain anonymous out of fear she could be fired, said that when she and others were notified about the new uniform last week, some liked the change, while others were less pleased.
“The girls with more meat on their bones, it kind of just rides right up,” the server said. “You have a wedgie all the time.”
The videos have reignited criticisms of Hooters for fostering an outdated concept centered around sexualizing servers’ bodies.
Many of the servers who shared their experiences on TikTok said they’ll continue to work for the company, meaning they will wear the new shorts. However, the TikTok videos that garnered the most views were those that featured women who seemingly joked that they plan to quit rather than resort to wearing the new outfit.
The TikTok video of the Hooters employee who jokes that she will quit and says the new shorts are "like underwear” had more than 1.3 million likes and 14.8 million views, as of Thursday.
Another video, posted by user @ggnguyen, has more than 3 million likes and has been viewed more than 16.8 million times. She captioned the video, “What’s that supposed to fit?!?”
Several Hooters servers who posted about the new shorts on TikTok declined to speak on the record out of fear of risking their jobs. But their videos remain public on TikTok, and continue to amass more views.
Hooters locations are operated by one of two companies: Hooters of America and The Original Hooters group. And not all Hooters locations are updating the uniforms.
Hooters of America, LLC, operates more than 420 Hooters restaurants in 42 states and 29 countries, according to its website. The Original Hooters Group — which has a total of 25 locations in Chicago, New York, and Tampa Bay, Florida — has nearly identical branding but operates separately from Hooters of America.
Hooters of America rolled out the shorter shorts in its Texas locations before distributing them to a wider range of locations. Locations operating under the Original Hooters franchise, however, still require servers to wear longer shorts for more coverage.
A representative for the Original Hooters Group said that its locations will continue using the same uniforms that servers have worn for decades.
“The ‘Original’ Hooters Restaurants located throughout Tampa Bay, Chicagoland, and Manhattan ... will not be changing their iconic uniform of orange shorts and white uniform tops that has made the brand universally famous,” the spokesperson said in an email statement.
Hooters of America said it appreciates feedback “both positive and negative, regarding a more accommodating and inclusive image policy on tattoos, jewelry, nails, hairstyles as well as new uniforms — to include new top styles, shorts and the addition of socks.”
“The new uniforms were the result of a collaboration with Hooters Girls,” Hooters of America said in its email statement. “These uniforms have been worn for months in several Texas markets and have received overwhelmingly favorable reviews from both Hooters Girls and customers.”
In an updated statement sent to NBC News on Saturday, Hooters of America said that Hooters servers would be allowed to choose to wear either their classic uniforms or the new one.
"They can determine which style of shorts best fits their body style and personal image," the statement read.
The statement went on to say that the "Hooters Girls" are the company's "most valuable asset" and that they remain committed to empowering the women who work for them.
"We’re excited to see a national trend toward self-expression and inclusivity that bodes well for our marketplace. We work continuously with our Hooters Girls to refresh and update the image of our brand ambassadors and to empower them to feel their best while at work," the statement reads.
Uniforms have long been a contentious issue for Hooters, and were once the center of litigation against the company.
In 2010, the restaurant chain was sued by roughly 400 at-the-time current and former employees in the Sacramento area as part of a class action lawsuit over the uniforms, hours and pay. The suit was settled after the restaurant agreed, among other things, to relax the uniforms, according to NBC News affiliate KCRA3.
Hooters said it plans to work with staff to make sure the uniforms are “comfortable while reflecting current style.”
The server who spoke to NBC said the shorts haven’t been a problem for her. However, she understands that for other women the shorter shorts could be uncomfortable.
When they were first rolled out at several Texas locations, the shorts were seemingly well received, the server said. However, as the new uniform has made its way to more locations across the U.S., it’s seemingly been less popular, she said.
“One of the girls was like, ‘Oh yeah, they’re super cute. I love them,’” the server said. “And the other girls were like, ‘This is way too short. My privates are hanging out.’”
Kalhan Rosenblatt is a reporter covering youth and internet culture for NBC News, based in New York.
Morgan Sung is a trends reporter for NBC News Digital.
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