Hooters to open in Columbia this month

Tuesday, January 3, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 9:31 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

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.

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Afton Anderson June 15, 2007 | 9:24 a.m.

I totally disagree with the article and that Hooters of Columbia is a "good place to work." I was employed there last summer and when I first started working, I felt okay. The uniforms didn't seem too revealing and I needed some fast cash, but it was not worth it. It is not so much the uniform, but the image the uniform portrays and what it represents-- a place to eat where one can look at the body of a pretty, sociable young girl.
Despite the large numbers of women that work for Hooters, the management is mostly men and they do not treat everyone with respect. I've seen people get fired for gaining too much weight and you are not allowed to wear any "ethnic hair styles or makeup styles." Although you don't have to have DD's to work there, it sure helps and the majority of the women that work there have a sizeable amount up top. Let's face it-- men go there to look at the pretty girls they hire and their bodies. In kind they hire attractive women with tiny little physiques. It blows my mind that people would even bring their kids there! I've been hit on by more married men during my short 3 months working there more than any other period in my life, and I don't feel I was treated with respect by their management. The company has encountered many discrimination suits based on race and gender. I feel saddened that there will always be a market for restaurants like these because women refuse to stand up to objectification. People say they 'just like the wings' but no chicken on Earth tastes that good. Why do you think there is no restaurant chain that exploits a man's sexuality and body? It's because they won't allow it and women won't patronize a business of its kind. A social change is needed.

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