Strange Facts and Employee Stories That Hooters Wants HushedBy Jennifer Snow
The restaurant chain Hooters has come a long way from its roots in Clearwater, Florida, back in 1983. At that time, it was a small-time experimental business run by six owners who never really believed their brainchild would make it beyond the county’s borders. By some wild turn of fate, Hooters has become very successful. It even used to have its own airline, a casino hotel, and an inn. Its history is rich with unbelievable stories, and it has employed many people, with hundreds of franchises globally.
The company is, of course, not immune to offbeat stories, and many a strange fact has been shared among insiders on the down-low. Thankfully, enough of these stories have leaked out that we can write a whole article about the court actions, employee complaints, and other remarkable events that Hooters would prefer to hide from view. Enjoy!
One can tell right away if a waitress works for Hooters, what with their trademark tank-top uniform paired with skimpy runner’s shorts. Then there’s the personality that’s as bubbly as freshly poured soda. But the company requires more than just the obvious physical assets.
To qualify as a Hooters waitress, one must possess some degree of creativeness and talent. Qualifying seminars and screening aren’t just about practical waitressing skills. One must show a unique ability, such as being able to draw an owl with the use of condiments.
Hooters management is meticulous about how their employees look, right down to the smallest details. A job applicant can’t just walk in thinking it’s a simple, no-brainer waiting job. It is not enough to look good and be decent at waiting tables.
One of many rules is that waitresses have to wear special Hooters socks above squeaky clean sneakers. These special socks must be bunched up in a particular way around the ankles, making the legs appear leaner and sexier when properly done. This is all to make the women more appealing to the customers they serve.
Personality Is a Top Priority
Keep that resume brief – this is perhaps the best advice you could give to a Hooters waitress wannabe. In its line of business, the company’s actions have made it clear that personality has always been a quality they prioritize over brains or work experience.
Forget that you may not have a single job listed that’s related to hospitality experience. A long list of work experience won’t be much of an advantage over another applicant who’s more attractive and can maintain a fit figure. It’s all about the looks and pleasing personality.
Rules on the Use of Cosmetics
It may come as a surprise to some, but only around 3% of women feel attractive when going out without makeup. Cosmetics generally make women more confident, and Hooters execs must have thought of this when they created a rule regarding its daily use by their waiting staff.
Makeup should be applied in a way that appears natural, accentuating the facial features, with lipstick and mascara as well. This might mean an additional expense to waitresses, but good looks attract more tips.
The Restaurant Got Its Name From Steve Martin
Hooters products include chicken wings, burgers, and seafood, but its main staples – the focal points of its existence – are its waitresses and their sex appeal. We wonder what its original six owners might have considered as potential names for their then-concept restaurant. In the end, the business name Hooters came from Steve Martin, who hosted Saturday Night Live.
On May 17, 1980, Martin joked about how to properly refer to a woman’s breasts. It shouldn’t be “boobs,” he said, nor Winnebagos, jugs, or golden bozos. That’s how Hooters identified itself, thanks to Steve Martin’s comic suggestion to the crowd.
The Concept Wasn’t Expected to Succeed
The restaurant’s founders didn’t mind launching their business at a cheaply acquired spot where a shoddy nightclub used to operate. It wouldn’t last anyway – or so they thought. It was merely a passing business idea shared among friends for fun. They were simply following their whims at the time.
They even incorporated Hooters on April Fool’s Day of 1983. So, you wouldn’t really treat the whole concept as something serious. Because many prior businesses had boarded up in that spot, they even put up a mock graveyard near the entrance in their honor.
Hiring the First Waitress
The restaurant’s first waitress had no clue what awaited her at the end of the catwalk in a local bikini contest. After winning the pageant, one of Hooters’ owners came up to her literally soaked after he jumped off the boat he’d been on and swam to the shore to hand her his business card, offering her a job.
The co-owners made a bet. Ed Droste assured them that he could successfully hire whoever won the bikini competition. Indeed, he was able to convince Lynne Austin to work for them as their first waitress after some serious pleading.
Qualified applicants who are subsequently trained for the server position will have to be prepared for more activities than the job generally requires. Training is about more than familiarizing yourself with the menu, learning how to upsell products, or boosting your memory.
A waitress at Hooters will have to learn how to dance too. The company can’t risk having servers who look klutzy when they move around, so waitresses must be able to dance gracefully, whether pre-choreographed or not. When a particular tune is on, they must shift from server to dancer mode in a snap.
Sued for Sexual Discrimination
The restaurant’s original six owners had a different idea in mind when they conceptualized Hooters in Clearwater back in 1983, but the new owners had to hire a few male waiters to keep up with the times.
Despite its name being akin to the words jugs or boobs, some men want to be part of Hooters too. The company’s management team understandably rejected its first few male waiter applicants, being focused on a particular market that favors female employees, but they got sued for sexual discrimination. So, all that had to change.
Hair Color Cost One Hooters Waitress Her Job
The company wanted their waitresses to be “delightfully tacky yet unrefined,’ but they tend to be restrictive and controlling when it comes to their appearance while on the clock, sometimes to a fault. Waitress Farryn Johnson learned this the hard way when she decided to color her hair.
She was fired because the highlights she put in looked unnatural, according to Hooters management. They can dress up in a way that drives a man’s imagination wild, but they can’t have tattoos, piercings, or unnatural hair color.
Hooters wants its waitresses to be different from those who work for other restaurants, so they stand out, and that’s why Hooters was able to emerge above the competition. Hooters waitresses are different and yet the same.
Management wants to control how they look. They always have their hair down, no ponytails allowed, with suntan-style pantyhose that they have to purchase at their own expense. It’s ironic how they all seem wild and free, yet in reality, they are controlled by the higher-ups.
Hooters Used to Have an Airline
In 2003, the restaurant chain had its sights set on the sky. They wanted to bring the same sexy good times they provide terrestrially to air travelers. They offered lower fares, more legroom, and a couple of Hooters girls were put in charge of all the in-flight fun, with the trademark evocative white tank tops.
They were successful… for a while. However, tough competition and the major industry changes that came in after the 9/11 attacks grounded Hooters Air after three years.
They Wear Black on Fridays
Regular customers experience a slight change of scenery when they visit the restaurant on Fridays. Apart from the occasional themes Hooters have on certain months (like having winter designs in December), the waitresses are allowed to dress in black.
The shade makes their skin glow, especially under the phosphorescence and play of lights. The bartenders are also allowed to wear black. It’s a break from the traditional white and orange combination – a come-hither, naughty, villainous look that patrons love.
Not All the Girls Are Allowed to Wear the Crop Top
The crop top doesn’t replace the traditional Hooters tied-up-at-the-back, body-fitting shirt as the official uniform, but the company wants its girls to wear it for variety on certain shifts, creating a wider spectrum of seduction. Only those who are approved by management can wear crop tops.
Before a waitress is allowed to strut back and forth, waiting on the delighted, ogling customers, they need their superior’s approval first. Needless to say, those whose muffin tops are visible won’t get that chance.
Wearing the Uniform Outside of Work Is Prohibited
For a company that wants to maintain a certain risque image, the type that mothers ideally wouldn’t want their daughters to be associated with, their rules on the job are aplenty, which seems contradictory by nature.
It’s not just about how the girls look. The guidelines cover but also extend beyond what kind of fashion statements girls can make at work. Hooters also prohibits their girls from exhibiting their uniforms outside of the workplace. No tank tops before or after shifts – this sounds conservative.
Upselling and Cross-Selling
Hooters girls aren’t the typical wait staff you’ll see in most restaurants doing the routine work of serving food to customers and making sure they leave the establishment with satisfied bellies. They are more aptly described as entertainers – talented and creative, good-looking, and able to dance on the spot.
Waitresses also compete among themselves by upselling and cross-selling company merchandise. The top sellers of the month get better shift schedules as a reward. Those on duty during peak hours get more tips, and that’s the real prize they aim for.
Appropriately Dressed (for the Weather)
The Hooters chain is no stranger to business-related controversy, from their corporate concept down to employee experiences and company rules, they’ve encountered all sorts of events that have caused their management headaches over the years. Still, they know how to bend the rules a little and get away with it.
In some branches, depending on the climate, Hooters girls don’t have to be scantily clad at work. There are seasonal uniforms available to keep them warm. Long sleeves keep them cozy during winter, and management agrees to this. It’s alright to be wrapped up, appropriately dressed for the weather.
16-Step Customer Service
One might have an impression of Hooters girls being easygoing and carefree, reminding us of cheerleaders in skimpy clothing with their pom-poms raised in the air in support of their team. But this specialized wait staff actually follows a comprehensive 16-step customer service program.
And they have to do all these things without appearing mechanical. From greeting the customer to delivering their food, they must be entertaining and must always anticipate their dining needs. Hooters waitresses have to be quite smart to fulfill this daily task.
Every Hooters Girl Drops By
Part of this 16-step customer service approach is to let every customer feel exceedingly welcome the whole time they are dining in, not just by whoever takes the order but by the whole gamut of beautiful roses. This is why, if you visit a Hooters restaurant, you’ll notice that not a single waitress fails to drop by and at least say hi.
They’ll stop by to check if there’s anything you might need, refill drinks with a wide smile, flirt a little, and casually depart with sensuous curves swaying in their wake.
The Story Behind Hooters’ Orange Shorts
The idea of dressing up every Hooters waitress with orange short-shorts came from one of the company’s original six owners. The exec knew a secretary back in the day who he got to regularly observe jogging around the neighborhood in very short orange shorts.
This sensual image of those tight shorts, bouncing and shining, highlighting her voluptuousness as if she was bathed in moonlight, stuck in his psyche. So, he saw to it that this image was recreated in every Hooters girl you’ll ever see in every branch in the country and around the world.
The most popular waitresses in the world must be inured to stealthy eyes trailing their every step around Hooters restaurants. They must also be able to absorb flattery and sly comments inserted during friendly exchanges, allowing customers to think that they may have a chance of asking them out some day.
Reddit user SouthShoreBlondie shared how a man faked blindness and finally got her goat. He got her to sit beside him and help out with his order because he couldn’t see, then stealthily slipped her $100, asking if she’d let him slip his hand under her shirt. What made this worse was that the manager blamed it all on her, accusing her of instigating it by sitting too close to the customer. She quit.
Reddit user Clurrrrrr complained about having to spend so much dough just to keep her job. This is money that she could have used for basic necessities at home but instead, she had to spend it on stockings, orange short-shorts, and body-hugging shirts that she believes should be supplied to them by the company.
Each day, before a Hooters branch opens, the waitresses are scrutinized by the manager, who’s quick to call them out when something is awry. This could be a slight makeup flaw, a minuscule clothing stain, or an article he wants a waitress to replace at her own expense.
The minutes spent on uniform inspections seem somewhat reasonable since it’s important to maintain the company’s aimed reputation. But a former waitress complained about her manager taking advantage of this practice for his libertine acts, even slapping her behind on one occasion.
Sometimes, this manager would tell them to stand atop a chair so he could ostensibly examine the smallest detail of their uniforms, from top to bottom, borderline shaming them, asking them to do irrelevant acts, such as twirling on the spot.
One Military Theme Night Turned Into a Nightmare
Hooters girls break out of their customary uniforms of orange and white on special occasions, but Reddit’s IrrationalWoman, a former Hooters waitress, confessed how her excitement on Marine-themed night turned into a nightmare for her and the rest of the staff.
She claims that she was manhandled as if she were a captive in enemy territory. The problem was that the restaurant was full of soldier-customers who had not seen a woman in a year. Whenever she refused and fought against their whims, they accused her of being a tease.
Bullying from Superiors
Redditor LokiStoki got things off her chest by sharing a frustrating experience on the social media platform. Her story had to do with one of her superiors in Hooters. As if the demands in the workplace are not challenging enough – the strict rules governing their looks and the way they tend to be objectified –- her manager allegedly bullied her as well.
One day, her superior dumped her things on the floor in front of everyone. Lacking the power to complain about such an act, feeling like a neutered animal, she simply picked up her things and never returned.
Many customers will try to catch a pretty waitress’ attention directly or by dropping what they think is a subtle hint. In a way, that behavior comes with the territory, and they are trained on how to deal with it in a most hospitable way.
There are those, however, who come close to being occupational hazards to these angels. While some present them flowers or greeting cards with handwritten dedication, sweet and all, creeps tend to leave strange gifts, like a key to a motel room.
A new Hooters waitress wanted to make a decent living by working at the most popular food chain in the area. She already knew that cross-selling merchandise could earn her extra cash and that the tips are great if you put in the work. But bdld39 of Reddit claims that she was gradually given fewer and fewer shifts at a certain point.
She claims she wasn’t as pretty as her peers in their skimpy uniforms. For this reason, the Redditor feels that others were prioritized over her. She just wanted a job, not to be a future supermodel.
A Sharp-Tongued Customer
Hooters girls have to be ready for anything when they head in for a shift at work. Within the course of a single shift, they encounter weird requests, strange gifts, and the mundane exchange of numbers from guys who wish to text them during the wee hours of the night.
This particular customer wanted the waitress to dine with him at his table, like an escort of sorts, which she politely declined. This was obviously against company policy. When she turned him down, it was like he shifted into a hideous alternate personality, calling her names and then tipping her only a penny.
Dealing With Unstable Customers
One Hooters waitress had to be nice to a guy she barely knew, who came to the restaurant three days a week to see her. Being polite comes with the job, but he demanded that she walk with him down to the parking area to give him a kiss. The man clearly misread the professional amiability she showed to him and every customer. He thought he was the only one she treated that way.
After being rejected, he left but then returned in half an hour. The girl avoided him, so he left again but drove by a couple of times, snooping around. A customer saw him back again, sitting in his car, waiting for the waitress’ shift to end. Thankfully, this eagle-eyed customer reported the creepy guy to the branch manager.
You’d be surprised by the shenanigans some people come up with while sitting alone in the restaurant for hours. One particular customer had spent four hours watching the people around him, long after his meal was finished, waiting for the right timing to ask his main server if he could give her a quick back massage.
She gave in to his seemingly innocuous request, especially after another waitress let him massage her without much fuss. With her back to this guy kneading her shoulders, she actually felt good and relaxed until she felt a warm sticky wet thing mopping her neck. She shrieked and pulled away from his unwanted kisses. He left her a hefty tip, apparently to buy her silence about his transgression.
The fact that it was daytime did not deter an inebriated customer from wanting to come in and ask for the hottest girl to sit beside him. He didn’t really look so bad until the waitress noticed him picking out a few pills from a Ziploc and swallowing them.
It was then that the real grossness started. He began talking about her beautiful body at first, then he started describing all the things he would do to her, letting his imagination fly free and showering her with profanity before the manager had to ask him to leave.
An Ungentlemanly Proposal
After years of working as a Hooters waitress, Reddit user TaylorTot88 wishes she could forget some of her bad experiences, especially one that really sticks out from the rest. This awful incident still haunts her some nights as she’s trying to get to sleep.
Out of the blue, an older gentleman grabbed her by the hand during one of her shifts. Staring hard through the soul with libidinous eyes, this unpleasant old man asked her in all earnestness for the price of her body.
A group of local business executives from different companies decided to come together and bond at Hooters. Reddit user alfredbester was among them and told the story of how one of the guys’ behavior that night dampened their spirits.
All of a sudden, completely unprovoked, one of the businessmen began to hurl insults at a waitress who was just working on her lipstick, referring to her as a “lady of the night” but in more explicit terms. They quickly hushed this fellow and asked him to leave. The group apologized to the waitress and left a $20 tip.
Stalking Waitresses Online
Most waitresses don’t give their full names to customers, but that doesn’t stop them from being stalked, followed around outside of the workplace, and trailed through dark parking lots by weirdos who go the extra mile to find out where they live.
Even with only a first name for information, some obsessive customers are prepared to do the leg work and seek Hooters waitresses out. They pursue them on social media platforms and tirelessly send them unsolicited messages. It must be exhausting for the waitresses.
A lot of employees and regular customers swear that they have spent wonderful times in Hooters restaurants throughout the years, but hellabitcoins from Reddit thinks that her overall experience working for them was a bummer.
She got tired of fending off men who felt she was flirting with them. These men often became aggressive and disrespectful when she tried to set them straight. Then there were the awkward encounters with wives who suspected something fishy was going on and confronted her at her workplace. She also had to deal with over-eager teenagers who kept coming back and managers who scrutinized her too much. All in all, it sounds rough!