November 07, 2007

The boys will just love this!

MY story on the opening of Hooters at The Fort, as published in the BusinessMirror, Nov. 6, 2007.

Dang you boys are lucky! When are we girls going to get any fun restaurants like this? I'm in the mood for some gorgeous half-naked hunky male servers!

Coming soon at The Fort: Hooters

HOOTERS, the American restaurant made famous by its buxomy beautiful babes, will be opening its first outlet in the Philippines at The Fort entertainment strip in Taguig City.

This was confirmed by Kaz Endo, managing director and partner of Paradise Wings LLC., a Guam-based company which owns the Hooters franchise for Guam and Asia, including the Philippines.

In an e-mail to BusinessMirror, Endo said construction is ongoing at the restaurant, which will open its doors to the public by February 2008. “The Philippines, in particular Metro Manila, is a multinational city. Quality brands from around the world can be found here. Hooters, an American casual-dining themed restaurant, has many fans around the world, and with its expansion around the globe [e.g. China, Japan, South Korea, Dubai, Tel Aviv, etc.], it was only natural that this solid brand of over 30 years eventually found its way into the Philippines market.”

While he didn’t say how much his group is investing in the first outlet, Endo noted that the Atlanta-based parent firm and franchisor, Hooters of America Inc., requires a minimum of $1 million (roughly P43.7 million) of available funding per store. “The first store opening has taken about two years to plan and put together. We took our time because we wanted to enter the market correctly—not just bulldoze our way in. An aggressive expansion will be determined greatly by the [positive] response of the market. With this said, we intend on opening at a minimum two to three restaurants in and around select major city areas.”

Endo’s other partners in Paradise Wings are Guam-based businessmen Brian Y. Suhr and Michael S. Hahm, president/chief executive officer, and executive vice president, respectively of South Pacific Petroleum Corp.; and a Los Angeles-based lawyer named Charles Isgar. There is also a reported Asian partner, but for the Philippines, Endo did not name the group’s local partner.

The restaurant at The Fort will approximately measure 400 square meters, with a 150-seating capacity. It will also employ about 30 to 40 part-time and full-time staff. “This number exponentially grows as we expand. So in short, with the success of Hooters, so comes more job opportunities for managers, cooks and of course servers!” Endo said.

While the restaurant is most famous for its Hooters Girls, immortalized in a number of American films, TV shows, magazines, and calendars, Endo said their group is not hiring waitstaff based on looks alone. “No doubt, the Hooters Girls are the restaurant’s ambassador of goodwill and service. As pretty as they are, these are hardworking waitresses who make sure that customers of all gender and age are happy with our service. With an average of 70 percent of all sales coming from food sales—Hooters is still a restaurant, not a bar! We are being very selective with choosing who gets to be a Hooters Girl. They have to have a great personality, smarts as well as beauty. . . . all within a ‘girl-next-door’ package.”

He said Hooters at The Fort will look like any Hooters outlet in the U.S. and around the world, with the interiors dressed in pinewood to give a log cabin feel. It will also have on display products of American nostalgia and sports gear, aside from the usual gigantic TV sets strategically placed throughout the restaurant, “making it a perfect place to watch live sports (soccer, basketball, etc). It’s a casual dining atmosphere, so basically it’s a no-nonsense place where everyone is welcome.”

It will also carry the same menu as the U.S. and international including the restaurant’s famous chicken wings. “But for those looking for lighter fare, Hooters offers great appetizers, salads, soups and sandwiches. For something more hearty, [guests can] try our great burgers, chili or pasta dishes. Of course [we also have] Alaskan King crabs, grouper fish sandwich, and fresh oysters which are always great alternatives during the Lenten season or when you crave seafood,” Endo added.

While no particular market is being targeted by his group, Endo said Hooters normally attracts a young crowd, both male and female, followed by families and older adults. “Statistically, men tend to make up 55 percent of our customer base, followed by 35-percent female, and 10-percent family. An average [meal tab] will be approximately P500. A, B and upper C markets can afford our menu, and in particular those who like American concepts, we hope will give us a try.”

According to Endo, Paradise Wings will be opening the other Hooters restaurants itself instead of franchising these out to other interested parties. But the company will probably seek “investment partnerships” when aggressive demand for the restaurants picks up. “Hooters, as simple as the concept appears, is a very controlled environment; therefore, any operator/partner will have to go through extensive service-quality training and will be carefully selected,” he explained.

The company is also considering other locations in Asia such as Thailand, Bali and Vietnam.

The first Hooters opened on October 4, 1983 in Clearwater, Florida. According to its web site, the privately held Hooters of America Inc. operates and is franchisor of 435 Hooters restaurants in 44 states and 23 international locations such as Argentina, Aruba, Austria, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Costa Rica, England, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, Singapore, Switzerland, Taiwan, Trinidad and Venezuela.

Requirements for a Hooters franchisee include the ability to develop three to five restaurants within one’s territory, a restaurant location with at least 100,000-150,000 people within a five mile radius, $2 million in liquid assets, at least five years as a multiunit restaurant owner/operator.

A franchisee has to pay a franchise fee of $75,000 per location and an “option fee” of $15,000 for each additional restaurant option within a territory. Initial investment is between $800,000 and $1.5 million for each restaurant.

(Photo of Hooters Girl from HOA web site.)

No comments: