Six businessmen opened the first Hooters in Clearwater, FL in 1983. Since then, Hooters has opened hundreds of franchises across the United States and around the world.
Hooters is known for its chicken wings– served by attractive women in revealing T-shirts and orange nylon shorts. The menu also features burgers, sandwiches, tacos, seafood, and many Hooters original items, like bacon-wrapped chicken wings.
Hooters thrived throughout the 1980s and 1990s with its brand catering to a mostly male customer base. Hooters even opened a 696-room casino off the Las Vegas strip by rolling out the orange carpet in 2006. It was sold in 2019.
With a recent shift of focus on women’s rights in light of the #metoo movement, the Hooters brand was under scrutiny for being sexist and outdated. Coupled with the recent pandemic which claimed thousands of restaurants, there is little wonder why people would think Hooters is closing its doors.
Hooters has been a part of American culture for decades. But has the chain finally run its course? Is there truth behind the rumors that Hooters is closing?
So, is Hooters Actually Closing?
For Hooters fans around the world, no, Hooters is not closing.
The COVID-19 pandemic hit the entire food industry hard, and Hooters was no exception.
Lockdowns, capacity restrictions, staff health and safety protocols, all created a very unstable time for Hooters and restaurants everywhere. Some locations were forced to close their doors for good.
Hooters at one time had more than 420 locations across the US and internationally. As of 2021, that number is down to 311 US locations. Is this a sign that your restaurant chain is closing? Or that Hooters is still 300+ locations strong?
Hooters in Texas and Florida are thriving as the two states host 106 of the 311 US locations, or one-third of Hooters restaurants. There are currently Hooters in 251 cities across 37 states and territories.
The six friends who opened the first Hooters were bought out in 1984 and the company was eventually divided into two ownership groups: Hooters of America, Inc. based in Atlanta, Georgia, and Hooters, Inc., based in Clearwater, Florida.
Despite all of the challenges, Hooters has maintained its share of the casual-dining market and sports bar demographic for more than thirty years. Hooters survived the pandemic. Not all restaurants were as lucky.
Where Did These Rumors Come From?
Once a popular chain closes a couple of locations, rumors fly that the brand is in trouble. These rumors of course gain momentum on social media.
However, declining sales and a few closed locations do not mean the chain is going under. Neither does changing the management group’s name.
The division of the company based in Clearwater that owns and operates Hooters restaurants in Florida and Illinois is changing its name from Hooters Management Corporation to HMC Hospitality Group.
When people hear that the ownership is no longer calling itself Hooters, speculation runs rampant that the end is near for the Hooters brand. With the help of Twitter and Facebook, misinformation can spread like a virus.
The rebranding of Hooters into a more socially acceptable image is another sign that the restaurant is looking for ways to not only survive but grow.
Will It Close in the Future?
As of 2021, Hooters still has more than 300 locations around the world. Its ability to adapt to a changing landscape shows that Hooters is not planning on closing anytime soon.
The company has also diversified by opening a number of Hoots locations, a Hooters spinoff that caters to casual fast-food dining with a focus on wings. Hoots employs both female and male servers with a more conservative uniform.
Hoots Wings hits the fast-casual demographic and caters to the takeout trend. The pandemic and a shift in the way the service industry treats female employees created the need for a new take on the old-school Hooters model.
The chain plans to continue the momentum and open more than 50 Hoots locations around Pennsylvania and another 60 Hoots across Texas over the next five years.
As for the original Hooters locations, there may be more streamlining of operations and future closings. But the brand remains alive and well.
Other Restaurant Closings
Hooters is one restaurant chain that survived the COVID-19 pandemic with over 300 locations operating today. Many other establishments did not fare as well.
The pandemic claimed 110,000 eating establishments across the US in 2020 alone. That equates to 2.5 million lost jobs and a $240 billion drop in revenue for the foodservice industry.
App-based food delivery services like DoorDash, Uber Eats, and Skip the Dishes filled the gap for in-person dining. People rallied around their favorite local restaurants during the shutdown by ordering takeout to keep a stream of revenue flowing.
Hooters was not the only restaurant chain to see some locations close. Other major chains that felt the pandemic worse than Hooters include:
- TGI Friday’s: over 70+ restaurants closed
- Steak ‘n Shake: 51 restaurants closed
- Denny’s: 16 restaurants permanently closed
- Ruby Tuesday’s: 147 restaurants closed
- IHOP: 49 restaurants closed
The pandemic has set the food industry back about five years, so restaurants that want to survive and thrive in the future have to start the slow rebuilding process.
Hooters does not appear like it will disappear anytime soon. Hooters still enjoys success in a number of markets despite declining sales and the closing of several locations over the course of its history.
Many restaurant chains enjoy a boom, and then either level off or die completely. Hooters has adapted to the changing landscape of the restaurant industry and has survived for nearly 40 years.
So if you have heard that Hooters was closing its doors for good, rest assured that the rumors are not true. Hooters will continue to be one of America’s favorite places for an order of chicken wings— served with a smile.