CARRBORO, N.C. -- Hooters of America, Inc., the Atlanta-based operator and franchiser of Hooters restaurants, announced today that they will be opening a new franchise in Carrboro early next year.
Executive vice-president for franchise relations, Zach Barnes, said that he thinks this new location will be a breakthrough both for Hooters and Carrboro. "We have been trying to expand our reach to a more sophisticated, creative-class clientele, this location will do that. At the same time, Carrboro will profit from the cultural benefits that Hooters will bring with it to the town."
Barnes said he understands that the ethos of Carrboro is different from that of most of their other locations but says that "Hooters will be a great fit for a great little town." Barnes then added, "After opening stores back-to-back in Aruba and Singapore, I think we can handle Carrboro."
Barnes said he knows that there may be some resistance to a "national" restaurant coming to town, saying that he understands that Carrboro likes to "eat, sleep and drink local" -- but, he said, "the new Hooters location will allow them to do just that."
"Just for beginners, we will hire locals to staff the store. We understand that this will require that we loosen corporate policies on skin graphics as well as navel, nose, lip, tongue and ear piercings, but we can do that. Hey, we have an all-Chinese staff in Beijing, so we're flexible," said Barnes.
Richardson Boreal, Hooters' head of public relations, adds, "All Hooters have always allowed for a variety of hair colors so we'll just have to broaden the acceptable color spectrum a little. And just like at every other Hooters in the U.S., we plan on hiring local Mexicans for the food preparation staff."
Boreal said that he thinks that Carrboro will benefit from having a Hooters within town limits as it will serve to increase the town’s already ample diversity. "We know that Carrboro treasures its culturally diverse population. Hooters will enhance that as it brings across the town limits people who would rarely come here otherwise, such as the indigenous populations of far western and northern portions of Orange County. This is one of the few things that would get them into Carrboro outside of a stock car race around Carr Mill Mall or a Jesse Helms tribute night at the Century Center."
Tytoni Hawks, who will manage the Carrboro location, said she thinks the restaurant will be the first national chain food franchise to accept NC Plenties as legal tender for food purchases and waitstaff gratuities.
Hawks said the company has taken an option-to-purchase on the space currently occupied by Spotted Dog Bar & Restaurant between Main and Weaver streets near the Carrboro Century Center and directly across the street from Weaver Street Market.
According to the Carrboro Citizen, the planned April 1st grand opening, if it occurs at all, will take place amid a rash of protests from those adamantly opposed to Hooters on ecological grounds.
"This is objectification at its most degrading," said evylenE sorotkiN, a performance artist from Carrboro. "These cartoonish portrayals with exaggerated features which Hooters promotes only elevate debasing stereotypes into the status of social reality," said sorotkiN.
sorotkiN's views were endorsed by her colleague Imanda Wright, the James and Myrtle Beech Endowed Chair in Two-Dimensional Art at UNC, who said that while she valued freedom of expression, "Hooters depictions of the owl are outside the pale. Their caricatures are, in my mind, hate speech. Even a Norman Rockwell print of an eagle wouldn't be as bad. The combination of bad art and animal abuse is beyond the bounds of acceptability."
Hooters of America, Inc. is a privately held corporation which operates or franchises over 435 Hooters locations in 46 states, as well as Argentina, Aruba, Austria, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Costa Rica, England, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, Singapore, Switzerland, Taiwan, Trinidad and Venezuela. The owl-themed restaurant chain currently has no locations in Orange County.
Non-errata: One of my knowledgeable and observant regular readers (that would be Moody Smith) says I could not have beaten Ludwig Wittgenstein at chess as I claimed in one of my many fine biographical blurbs since Wittgenstein died less than three months after I was born. Let me clarify: I did not say I beat the Ludwig Wittgenstein at chess; I said I beat Ludwig Wittgenstein. My Ludwig Wittgenstein was the Ludwig Wittgenstein's eccentric nephew. I beat him using a satisfying sucker sacrifice of my queen in a classic match in Zell am See, Austria, in the fall of 1971. I did not offer a rematch.
Gary D. Gaddy once went to a Hooters in Raleigh for a surprise office birthday party for a colleague of his at the female-owned Chapel Hill research company where he worked. He never did get what the big deal was about the place.
A version of this column first appeared in the Chapel Hill Herald, Thursday March 22, 2007. Copyright 2007 Gary D. Gaddy