The Hooters restaurant chain is opening its first franchise in mid-Missouri.
The Hooters ladies, renowned for their orange short shorts and the tight owl-emblembed T-shirts, are coming to 1101 Woodland Springs Court, the eighth Hooters restaurant in Missouri.
The store reflects the recent surge of national chains coming to Columbia as the city nears a population of 100,000. Other new arrivals include Chuck E Cheese and Show Me’s.
Hooters is expected to bring with it 70 to 80 jobs, ranging from managers to servers and cooks, said Alexis Aleshire, Hooters national marketing assistant.
Despite the employment benefits to the city, some people have negative opinions of the Hooters opening.
“We’re not really thrilled about it, but the zoning is already done so there’s not too much we can do about it at this point,” said Judy Johnson, head of the Zaring Neighborhood Association.
Johnson said she is mainly worried about the clientèle Hooters attracts.
She said although the restaurant is not directly in her neighborhood’s area, the store will be close to residential homes.
“It would have been nice to stick with businesses that are a little more family friendly,” Johnson said.
She added that the restaurant will be the first thing visitors see when they enter Columbia from Interstate 70 on the east.
“I’m not sure if the zoning people really thought about that,” Johnson said.
Others, such as former Hooters waitress and MU student Allie Doyle, believe the national chain has received a bad rap unfairly.
“It’s looked upon as a dirty place, but it’s not,” she said.
Doyle said customers at Hooters in Colorado Springs, Colo., where she worked, were a mix of men, women and families.
According to the Hooters Web site, 68 percent of its patrons are men between the ages of 25 and 54.
When asked about the presumed prerequisites for the job and the — to some — undignified Hooters trademark uniforms, Doyle said employees were required to wear a bra and pantyhose at all times.
She added employees were not allowed to wear their uniforms in public, not even as they commuted to and from work.
Despite a common misconception that Hooters Girls are hired on the basis of their bra size and body stature, Doyle said personality is a server’s most valuable asset.
“I can tell you right now that I’ve worked with girls who were like 4-feet, 10 inches and had no chest at all,” Doyle said.
Whether it’s appearance or personality that draws customers in, the pay for a Hooters Girl is nothing to scoff at, according to Doyle. Like most waitresses, the girls can expect $2 an hour with the majority of their earnings being made in tips.
“When you have your own regulars, you can pull in $150 a day,” Doyle said. “My really good night was the night I made $186.”
Doyle said she used the money she earned to pay for last semester’s textbooks and tuition.
She disagrees with the assertion that Hooters exploits women.
According to Doyle, the girls who work there just have confidence to make money.
“I think working at Hooters is a logical decision. This is a job, there’s money and I’m going to go for it.”
Although Show-Me’s, another restaurant that uses female sex appeal to sell hot wings, opened in November, Aleshire doesn’t think Hooters will suffer from the competition.
“The Hooters Girl is our core concept, and no other restaurant can offer that,” she said.
The managers at Show-Me’s declined to comment.