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Hooters CEO Sal Melilli: Virtual brands have helped us thrive during the pandemic

The casual-dining chain benefited by having off-premises infrastructure in place beforehand


Hooters was one of the success stories among large sports-bar chains in 2020, largely because it was ready to shift to an all off-premises menu.

The Atlanta-based chain already had seen that takeout and delivery were going to be growing segments of their business and had launched a fast-casual spinoff chain, Hoots Wings, in 2017, allowing corporate management and franchisees to become familiar with catering to the off-premises space.

Additionally, Hooters management had been approached before the pandemic started by third-party-delivery company Uber Eats to roll out a virtual burger concept, so Hootie’s Burger Bar was up and running even before last year’s lock down. Since then, the parent company has launched Hootie’s Bait & Tackle, highlighting the chain’s seafood items, as well as Hootie’s Chicken Tenders.

All of those concepts have remained popular even as dining rooms opened up, leading to incremental sales with minimal added cost.

In this video, Hooters CEO Sal Melilli discusses the chain’s success and his optomism for a bright future.

Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected] 

Follow him on Twitter: @foodwriterdiary

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