Battle of the 'breastaurants' is heating up in Greater New Orleans
Don Ames Reporting
Just as New Orleans is about to see another 'breastaurant' join the local dining scene, a well-established chain is looking to change it's image...somewhat.
Twin Peaks is about to bring its sexy servers to Metairie when it opens in Clearview Mall this November.
Meanwhile, Hooters is trying to become more atractive to its prime demographic, putting sports up front.
Hooters says its main attraction is sports, and the prototype for its remodeling efforts is in Slidell.
The newly remodeled restaurant, at 1776 Gause Avenue, has 55 televisions throughout the restaurant, including a 165-inch video wall made up of four 70-inch televisions, and a centrally-located bar.
Local Hooters' owner, Greg Gibson says the company plans to remodel about 20 stores this year and will ramp up efforts even more in 2014.
"In the past, we've had a lot more neon signs, heavy wood, and an open-air kitchen with a bar in front of the kitchen. Whereas, now it's almost all glass, more TVs, more bar-centric with the bar in the middle of the restaurant and the kitchen is closed off. So, it's a drastic change from the 300 and something Hooters around the country."
The Hooters on Veterans Boulevard, in Metairie, will undergo a similar make-over sometime in the future.
"We will definitely have as many TVs as we can put in there," says Gibson. "And, we'd love to put that video wall in there, too. It probably won't be quite as big as in Slidell, because we made a wall specifically for that. But we will have some kind of video wall."
He says Hooters is also trying to appeal more to women and families.
"We have an emphasis on getting more young males in. But we still want to keep our focus on the family and getting both males and female as guests."
Gibson says the chain is not out to bust its image, but enhance it by keep more abreast of the sports scene.
"I think there's a strong desire to come to Hooters for sporting events. But, with that said, there's a lot of times when we're very busy and there's not any sporting events going on. We'd like to think that, if there's a sporting event that's on, that they come to Hooters. But, we also like to think that they come when they just want to take the family out to dinner."
Gibson is not fond of any reference to Hooters as a 'breastaurant'.
"That's a term we don't use," he says. "We've never really liked that term anyway. That's a media term. That's not something that we've taken and put under our hat, that's for sure. We think of ourselves as a neighborhood restaurant."
In fact, in spite of its cheeky name and scantily-clad female servers, Hooters couldn't use the term in any official capacity, even if they wanted to.
A restaurant chain in Texas called Bikinis Sports Bar and Grill got a federal trademark on the term 'breastaurant.'
But, Hooters will definitely continue to uphold the skimpy shorts and tight t-shirts tradition.
"The girls aren't going anywhere. No," says Gibson. "There's been a lot of talk about changing up our uniforms, but we're not anywhere close to doing anything like that right now."
He says the Hooters girls are a powerful marketing tool.
"We try to position ourselves by sending the girls out in the community and doing a lot of charity work and those kind of things... going to golf tournaments and fund raisers. We have three events a week going on next month."
Meanwhile, area interest in the 'breastaurant' concept is not sagging.
Happy's Irish Pub features hot little servers in plaid skirts on Poydras.
Twin Peaks will plunge into the market in November with its scantily clad girls at Clearview Mall, and plans to open a Gretna location in the first quarter of 2014.
Gibson says he really doesn't know how similar competition has impacted Hooters nationwide.
"We've been very successful and I'm sure all those places are going to be successful, too," he says. "In New Orleans, particularly, people like to go out to dinner...so I'm sure there's a lot of opportunity for everybody."