The push toward fast casual has hit — of all places — Hooters. The chain, infamous for its scantily-clad female staff and chicken wings, will launch a fast-casual spinoff of the brand, called Hoots, next month in the Chicago suburb of Cicero at 2201 S. Cicero Ave. Unlike Hooters, Hoots, A Hooters Joint will feature male and female counter servers, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
Introducing Hoots, a new food concept opening in Cicero, Illinois later this month!— Eat Hoots (@eatathoots) February 1, 2017
Chicago’s lone downtown Hooters location stands in River North, where patrons can see women servers tote out their wings and drinks in Hooters’ customary waitress uniform featuring short orange shorts and tight tank tops. The uniforms won’t make their way to Hoot. What employees — including men — will wear remains a mystery.
Inside, expect 75 seats and a full bar within a 2,800-square-foot space. The one-page menu will include Hooters’ breaded chicken wings. Hooters’ brass told The Nation’s Restaurant News that Cicero is an experiment for the company, which is seeing to-go orders increase, representing 14 percent of sales nationally. The cost of operating a Hoots should be cheaper than a Hooters location.
There’s a second Chicago location in a former Denny’s near O’Hare International Airport. Suburban locations include Schaumburg, Orland Park and Downers Grove. Hooters spokespersons failed to respond for requests for additional comment. Cicero plays a big part in AMC’s Better Call Saul.
Hooters debuted in 1983 in Clearwater, Fla. As far as names go, Hoots could be worse, but it just shows that even breastaurants aren’t immune to the economy.
UPDATE: Hooters reps sent a news release and rendering. There's not much new in the release. It only adds that fast-casual restaurants continue to grow in popularity with the vaunted 18 to 34 demographic. That's what's driving Hooters' desire to expand with Hoots.