Japan's first Hooters to give rivals a run for their money

The first Japanese outlet of the risqué Hooters chain will arrive in Tokyo on October 25, with more than 20 of the restaurant's trademark scantily clad waiting staff to welcome American franchise owner Coby Brooks and a long list of Japanese celebrities on opening night.

Tokyo is a crowded market for restaurants, with overseas franchises such as the Hard Rock Cafe and TGI Friday's already well-established here, but manager Mark Imacho believes Hooters has a very different sort of night out.

"There are plenty of other places around town that are restaurants, but Hooters is unique because what we offer is entertainment and showbiz as well as good food and drink," he said. "The concept is completely new to Japan, but we are sure it will catch on and we are already looking to expand with another outlet, possibly as soon as next summer."

The most important element in the success of Hooters overseas - the franchise has 455 restaurants around the world and revels in its motto of being "delightfully tacky yet unrefined" - has always been its waitresses. And it may not please the politically correct crowd, but the company insists on referring to them as Hooters Girls.

"They have to be outgoing, they have to have personality and they need to know how to have fun," said Imacho. "They will be playing games with the customers, doing dances and singing songs, so they have to have what it takes to do that."

The company is presently interviewing candidates for 50 positions ahead of the grand opening in Tokyo, with a number of spots already filled. One successful candidate was previously an airline stewardess and just fit the mold for personality and a sense of fun, Imacho added.

The first Hooters opened in the Florida, US city of Clearwater in October 1983 and the chain was recently ranked 45th in Restaurant and Institution magazine's top 400 restaurant concepts in America.

The company will be bringing the image of "casual, beach-theme establishments" to Japan, including an array of sporting events on over-sized TV screens around the restaurant, as well as a menu that has served its other outlets well.

Chicken wings are a Hooters speciality and come with a selection of eight differrent dips, while deep-fried pickles have not appeared on any menu in Japan previously, Imacho believes. Other meals range from an assortment of burgers to seafood platters, salads and grilled chicken.

The signature drinks will also be served up, including mojitos, T-Bird Tea, margaritas and a range of other cocktails, while Japanese beers from Asahi and Suntory will be on tap, with Budweiser, Heineken, Corona and Guinness available in bottles.

Hooters Tokyo
Address: Akasaka Tokyu Plaza 2F, 2-14-3 Nagata-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-0014.
www.hooters.co.jp

JR

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