10 Things You Didn't Know About Hooters

The original ‘breastaurant’ has been in business since 1982

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10 Things You Didn't Know About Hooters

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In a world where just about every restaurant is on the hunt for ways to market themselves as family-friendly establishments, one type of restaurant chain is flying in the face of convention: the “breastaurant.” In recent years, this decidedly child-inappropriate format has exploded in popularity, but Hooters is the one that started it all. 

The Name Was Inspired by a Steve Martin Monologue on ‘Saturday Night Live’

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The restaurant’s name was inspired by the May 17, 1980 episode of Saturday Night Live, which was hosted by Steve Martin. During his monologue, titled “I Believe,” he said, “I believe it's derogatory to refer to a woman's breasts as ‘boobs,’ ‘jugs,’ ‘winnebagos,’ or ‘golden bozos…’ and that you should only refer to them as ‘hooters.’”

The Owners Were Convinced That the Company Would Fail

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The “Original Hooters 6” (as they’ve come to be known) were so convinced that the company would fail that they incorporated it on April Fools’ Day, and even built a small “graveyard” on the property as an acknowledgement of all the restaurants that had previously failed on the same site. 

The First ‘Hooters Girl’ Was Hired on a Bet

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While watching the Clearwater Beach Jose Cuervo bikini contest, one of the founders bet his friends that he could convince the winner to be the first waitress, or “Hooters Girl.” Lynne Austin, the bikini contest champion, was eager to give up her job as a telephone operator and accepted his offer. She went on to appear in many advertisements for Hooters, and was also a Playboy centerfold.

The Hooters Calendar Is One of the World’s Top-Selling Calendars

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The first Hooters calendar was released in 1985 (for the year 1986), featuring several Hooters Girls, including Lynne Austin. The calendar increased the popularity of the restaurant, and is still an incredibly successful product. Today, each calendar features more than 200 “Hooters girls,” and the company claims that it’s been used as a springboard for hundreds of successful modeling careers. “We think people buy it mostly to read the articles,” the Hooters website jokes. 

The Chain Had Its Own TV Show From 1987 to 1995

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In 1987, Hooters Nite Owl Theater hit the small screen, and for eight years viewers could watch Hooters Girls introduce and host a late-night cable movie each week. The show was syndicated in 13 major markets nationwide, and was later renamed Hooters Movie of the Week. It remained on the air until 1995, when it was canceled after a legal skirmish between Hooters, Inc. and Hooters of America.

The Owl’s Name Is Hootie

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That’s a trivia question we bet you never thought you’d know the answer to. 

It’s Been Sued Repeatedly

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While men have been hired by Hooters to work in the kitchen or as bartenders, hosts, and bussers, Hooters has maintained that hiring men to wait tables would go against the entire premise of the company, and it’s a position that’s landed the company in some legal hot water. In 1997, three men in Chicago and four men in Maryland sued the company after being denied employment; each received settlements ranging from $10,350 to $19,100. Likewise, a Corpus Christi, Texas, man sued Hooters after not being hired as a waiter in 2009. It has also been sued for sending illegal advertisements via fax machine, secretly filming employees undressing, telling an employee to lose weight, and firing an African-American waitress for having blonde highlights.

There’s an Annual Hooters International Swimsuit Pageant

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Every year, the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas hosts the Hooters International Swimsuit Pageant, during which 100 Hooters Girls chosen from Hooters locations all over the world compete for the honorary title. In 2014, two-time Hooters Calendar Girl Tyler Suess took home the crown. 

Hooters Air Existed Briefly

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In 2003, Hooters Air took to the sky after Hooters of America owner Robert Brooks acquired Pace Airlines. Marketed toward golfers looking for a fun way to get to Myrtle Beach’s many golf courses, the airline featured increased legroom and leather upholstery on all seats, complimentary meals on all flights lasting longer than an hour, and two in-uniform Hooters Girls on each flight. Citing increased fuel costs, the airline shut down in April 2006, costing the company upwards of $40 million. 

It Didn’t Start Serving Liquor Until 2006

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For the first 23 years of its existence, Hooters only served wine and beer, but in 2006 the chain began applying for liquor licenses for all of its locations.