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?

Comments (4) Add New Comment
Breklor
I live in Vancouver, but I visited the Hooters at West Edmonton Mall about five years ago. ("Nobody will recognise me," I figured...) The servers were attractive, sure, but their "sexy" outfits were more silly than arousal-inspiring. They were certainly friendly and the service was really good, but the food, well... it was adequate pub food, and that's it. If Hooters served, say, Red Robin-quality food, it might be more successful.

Even so... while I like breasts as much as the next guy, I don't go out for dinner to look at them. And that's before you even start to get into the whole objectification argument.

You know what I'd rather see? Giant Flaming Explosions Restaurant. All stuff blowing up, all the time. Let's have a restaurant with big flatscreens on every wall showing episodes of Mythbusters, documentaries about asteroid impacts, nuclear test footage, flaming car crashes... oh yeah.
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Rob
I'm also from Van. I've only been to the West Ed Mall location once as well, a few years ago. My friend and I were looking for food, and we saw Hooters and decided to go there, just for the hell of it. As Breklor says, the food is average, and the service is decent. But the women are certainly beautiful and large chested.

A year ago, I was walking around downtown Van with another friend, doing some shopping and such. And we decided to find the Hooters here, but were told it had closed. I told him we could hit a strip joint and he would probably enjoy it more, but he was pretty bummed about not being able to eat at a Hooters. I think a lot of guys probably go there once, just to say that they've been to a Hooters. But once they realize that the food is nothing special, the appeal of eating wings surrounded by big breasts wears off.
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Flyer
Factual error: Red Robin is in fact US-owned and based. They are all over the USA, in Canada RR is only in BC and Alberta.
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Charlie Smith
Flyer is correct: http://www.canadarobin.com/redrobin/home/about-us/history.aspx
In the article above, I have deleted Red Robin from the list of Canadian-owned restaurants.
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