The casual-dining chain Hooters is one of the more famous “breasturants.” The name Hooters comes from the sound an owl makes (the chain’s mascot is an owl) and a colloquial expression for female breasts.
Hooters waitresses are referred to as “Hooters Girls” and are known for being scantily-clad in the chain’s uniforms, which consist of bright orange mini-shorts and a low-cut white tank top.
Founded in Clearwater, Fla. in 1983 by six local businessmen — Lynn D. Stewart, Gil DiGiannantonio, Ed Droste, Billy Ranieri, Ken Wimmer and Dennis Johnson — Hooters was bought just one year later by Hugh Connerty, who owned the concept until 2002. At this point, Robert Brooks and a group of franchisees (called Hooters of America) bought Connerty out.
Upon Brooks’ death in 2006, he owned a majority stake in Hooters, which was sold to Wellspring Capital before being rejected by Chanticleer Holdings, who had loaned the chain money. Five years later, Chanticleer acquired the chain only to sell it in 2019 to Nord Bay Capital and TriArtisan Capital Advisors.
In 2019, the chain developed a fast-casual spin-off called Hoots Wings, designed around the chain’s most-famous food item: the wings. There would be no Hooters Girls at these locations, and, during the coronavirus pandemic of 2020, these units turned into virtual brands and were quite successful.
The chain’s current CEO, Sal Melilli, has worked at Hooters since he was a teenager.
Key Data: Hooters
Segment: Casual Dining
Restaurant Segment: FSR Sports Bar
Number of US Locations: 330
2020 Sales: $841.1 million
Source: Datassential Firefly 500
CEO: Sal Melilli
Parent/Group: TriArtisan Capital Advisors, Nord Bay Capital