retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

It was just a couple of weeks ago that Playboy, having tried to publish a magazine without nudity, announced that it would once again feature naked centerfolds. It ended up, apparently, that not nearly enough people wanted to read the magazine just for the articles. (It remains to be seen whether in a world where nudity is as close as a cellphone or laptop - so I'm told - Playboy has any sort of relevance.)

Now comes word that Hooters - a restaurant/bar that traditionally has marketed waitresses wearing tight tank tops and short orange shorts more than it has the food or drink - has launched a new format without that signature waitress uniform.

The name: Hoots.

According to Eater Chicago, the first of the concept, "which offers counter service and a full bar, is now open in Cicero. The spin-off serves fewer items than the original Hooters, but the menu still centers on the chain’s familiar breaded chicken wings ... The food comes in containers that fast-food aficionados would be familiar with, as Hoots is positioning itself to handle massive to-go orders to fill man caves and basements with Buffalo shrimp and buckets of wings for sports-watching and other domestic activities."

Orders are placed at a fast-food-style front counter, and then delivered to tables. The company seems to believe that a fast-food concept might have growth potential that the restaurant business does not.

The question, it seems to me, is whether people have been going to Hooters for the food or for the waitresses. I've been to one in my entire life ... and to be honest, the food was barely mediocre. So I wouldn't be hopeful. (Unless they improve the food. Which doesn't seem to be on the menu.)

But at least they're going to find out what the real value proposition is.

It'll be an Eye-Opener.
KC's View: