Where’s B.C.’s appetite for Hooters?
In case you missed the Hooters International Swimsuit Pageant shown on TV yesterday (March 30), here’s a summary.
Hooters. Big ones. Bouncy ones. On TV. In gowns. In swimsuits. Not much talking. One hour. Two Canadians: one from Barrie, one from Winnipeg. They did not win. Neither did the woman from Beijing. Or Spain.
The big winners: Hooters restaurants, and lonely guys.
Yes, Hooters—the American restaurant chain famous for tits on tap—has televised pageants. There’s even a Hooters Canada contest, featuring women from the 13 Great White Hooters.
For Vancouver viewers, there were no hometown girls featured; that’s because the only two Hooters in B.C. have closed. The one at Bute and Robson closed in 2006, according to Ian Tostenson, president and CEO of the British Columbia Restaurant & Foodservices Association. The Surrey location has closed as well.
Why doesn’t B.C. have an appetite for Hooters?
“I think it’s not seen as classy to the average person in Vancouver, and Vancouver sees itself as very classy,” Tostenson told the Straight in a phone interview March 30. “You go to Earls or Cactus Club, and it’s elegant and classy in a sexy way. And, Vancouver has a lot of strip clubs. I just think it [Hooters] got lost in the middle.”
Tostenson recalls visiting Los Angeles with his two sons, when they were seven and 10. They saw a Hooters and wanted to go in. So he took them in, and they said, “Whoa, I don’t think we should be in here, Dad.”
“It scared them,” he said. “It was so overt. I think Vancouver is beyond that.”
In fact, a map of Hooters locations in the U.S. shows a concentration of restaurants in Florida and the Deep South, including, of course, Texas. The dots, representing locations, lessen as you northwest across the country, toward Seattle.
Tostenson also noted the type of American tourists Vancouver draws are generally not the Hooters-eating kind. At least, not in numbers large enough to keep the chain afloat here.
Interestingly, Tostenson pointed out that almost all American chains struggle in Vancouver. Planet Hollywood, he said, came and went, even with the Burrard Street presence of Sylvester Stallone. The Macaroni Grill has closed. Morton’s The Steakhouse is successful in Vancouver but, he pointed out, it’s not everywhere.
Vancouver’s biggest successful chains, he said, are homegrown. Milestones, Boston Pizza, White Spot, Earls, and many more, are Canadian-owned and geared to Canadian taste. Not just in food.
So, who’s up for a Miss Boston Pizza swimsuit pageant?