Hooters, Bristol: Review

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Opinions of Hooters tend to fall pretty much into four categories. “It’s degrading to women”. “It’s tacky”. “The food’s awful”. “It’s over-priced”. To be honest, I’d be inclined to agree with most of those – but can still see the appeal of the place for certain situations…

I’m going to have to confess that I’ve now been to the Bristol branch of the “breastaurant” three times. Not out of any love of the place, mind, but because two particular friends of mine are fans of the “all you can eat wings”  deal that the place runs on Sundays and Mondays, and I’m very bad at saying no to nights out. The boys now seem to have their wing eating down to a fine art, with the last visit seeing one friend smashing the 50 wings mark…I have no idea how!

To address those four categories of opinions of Hooters…

 

“It’s degrading to women”

Ultimately, the waitresses choose to work there. They know they’re going to have to wear skin tight vests, short orange shorts and a full face of make up. They know they’re probably going to be spending their shifts being leered at by spotty teenagers who are trying to impress their friends. Despite all that, they’re still perfectly friendly, smiley and genuinely seem to enjoy working there: one of our servers told us that she even brought her parents in for a meal while she was working so that she could prove that it wasn’t as sleazy as some people make out.

The only thing that’s REALLY degrading, in my view, is the way in which the girls are treated by the (male) chefs – their system for calling waitresses over when food is ready to be served is just that: CALLING them over. If I were being shouted at all night, I doubt I’d have the patience to stay in the job for very long…

 

“It’s tacky”

Yep, no disagreement from me there…but that’s exactly what you’d expect when you go to Hooters, isn’t it? On entering the restaurant, all diners are greeted with a call of “Welcome to Hooters!” from the waitresses. The decor and menus are pretty garish. At various points in the evening, the waitresses will break into song or dance (particularly if it’s someone’s birthday). It’s all very Americanised…but would you really expect anything else?

 

“The food’s awful”

The food, as you would expect, is your standard American diner fare: chicken wings, burgers, sandwiches, hot dogs and salads, plus rump steak or ribs options if you really feel like splashing out. Don’t expect to find much on the menu that you can eat if you’re vegetarian, though: you’ll be resigned to cheese quesadillas, nachos with cheese, or a salad. Beers are mainly American and not actually badly priced, and soft drinks come in at £1.90 for a Coke/lemonade/similar.

The first time I went, I ordered a hot dog (mainly because it was one of the cheapest items on the menu and I was poor!) I wasn’t expecting to be blown away…and I wasn’t. A cheap frankfurter in a cheap bun was served with a small salad, half a pickle and a choice of coleslaw, baked beans or potato salad (as are all of the burgers and sandwiches) and a portion of curly fries (if you want these with any of the other burgers/sandwiches, you’ll have to pay extra). At £5.99 you’d expect the quality to be higher – but then again, I guess you’re paying for the venue rather than the food.

The boys always go for the chicken wings, with a choice of breaded or naked (hmmm), and a range of sauces from mild to BBQ to “911” – incredibly hot. They always opt for naked, but I’m not sure whether this is out of choice or a childish entertainment from saying the word “naked” to the waitresses… Either way, they always seem pretty happy with the quality of the wings, but do complain that the size of the wings that they are served varies a lot.

The last time I went, I ordered the Texas Burger (£8.99) – a burger with BBQ sauce, cheese, bacon and onion rings. The burger, surprisingly, was tastier than I’d expected, and actually looked like real meat – a proper thick burger rather than the thin, cheap ones that you find at Bristol’s kebab houses, for example. The bacon was a bit flabby, though, and the bun tasted pretty cheap and nasty.

Definitely not worth £8.99, though. Which brings me onto the next criticism…

 

“It’s over-priced”

Without a doubt. When it’s not an “all you can eat” night, you’re looking at £7.49 for 10 chicken wings – and that’s without any accompanying side orders. Burgers and sandwiches range from around £7 to £9, served with half a pickle, a small side salad and a choice of coleslaw, baked beans or a potato salad. Even a simple hot dog, your standard “cheap frankfurter in cheap bun” as previously mentioned, weighs in at £5.99…but does come with curly fries, which makes it slightly better. You get the picture, though. It’s not cheap, considering the quality of the food – but as I said before, I think you’re paying more for the venue than what’s actually on your plate…

 

I think my verdict is that as long as you know what to expect, you won’t be disappointed…and my assumption (I may be wrong) is that people tend to go there for the experience rather than because they’re expecting a great meal. Overall, a fun night out – depending on your idea of fun – but keep your expectations to a minimum…

 

On a related note, there’s a document doing the rounds on the Internet that claims to be a copy of the official (US) Hooters staff handbook. Whether or not this is genuine I have no idea, but it makes for interesting reading. Link here.

 

Hooters

Website: http://www.hooters.co.uk/Bristol/index.php

Address: Unit 2, Building 11, Harbourside, Bristol BS1 5SZ

Telephone: 0117 930 0750

Find Hooters on the Bristol Bites Directory…

14 Responses to Hooters, Bristol: Review

  1. Surely you should be reviewing local food businesses / restaurants rather than being ambivalent about this fast food joint whose USP is that all their waitresses have large breasts – it's a shockingly tacky and sexist business that should never have been allowed to open right next to some of Bristol's main family attractions.

    Shame, as I've been enjoying reading your reviews lately…

    • Chris, it is part of the American culture that has an attraction. Having been on business numerous times to the US and having been taken to Hooters in various cities, the waitresses are almost combative. They use their sex appeal to pry open your wallets and sell more beer and high-calorie-mediocre food than you can imagine. It is a fantastic example of commerce. The nice thing is that people such as you never have to spend your money there. However, if you are ever looking for and interesting role reversal, visit a Hooters where the girls aren't so British and know how to use what God gave them to improve their pay cheque.

  2. Chris: I don't see why Bristol Bites 'should' be doing anything. It's her blog, it's a restaurant she's been to a couple of time before and fits in with her mission to work through the eateries of Bristol.

    I'd never go there, but BB addresses the sexism issue and gives a fair review of what seems like ropey food.

    • It's the shrugging of shoulders that I object to, not the review in itself. I can't see how anybody would be anything other than repulsed by the place, and everything it stands for.

  3. I too am disappointed to see a review of Hooters on your otherwise reliable blog – especially one which doesn't condemn a place which does nothing to improve standards of food, animal welfare and of course equal opportunities.
    If your friends are so keen to drag you to this tacky, low quality, overpriced eatery you could perhaps suggest they read this http://www.hootersbristol.com/ or this http://www.bristolfawcett.org.uk/Commercial Sexualisation & Hooters.html or take them to Number 1 Harbourside for great service, great value and local produce in lovely surroundings.
    You said you felt wrong posting a review of this place, when it comes to discrimination if it feels wrong it probably is.
    Hope you get a better meal and experience at the next place you review.

  4. Looks a great place! shame we dont have one down in Torquay…..

    err…. not that I would be seen in such an establishment ofcourse…..

    Now whens my next meeting in Bristol, Oh would you look at that its my Birthday as well when im next there!!

    What a Coincidence!!

    hehehehehehe

  5. Very informative Em! A group of quite posh friends who are really into nice restaurants and good food have been to Hooters on more than one occasion which I found very odd and always wondered why!! A guilty pleasure perhaps..

    I don't think I would ever choose to ever go myself but if I was invited for a friends birthday or something I would definitely be up for it! Although the food does looks like a stomach ache on a plate..

  6. Oh dear, sometimes I do feel old. Big hooters means big noses doesn't it? I do think any establishment that serves food is fair game for a food reviewer and I totally agree with Kate, I'd just add that places like these are bad for boys as well…

  7. 'Ultimately, the waitresses choose to work there.'

    Is this how we would feel about prostitutes, Page 3 girls, lap dancers and porn stars too? I would say that yes, a small minority of women in these professions do think, OK, I'll give that a go and try working there, it won't be too bad. Or they might have a drug habit or a child to feed. Or they might be coerced by someone in the background. They can make more money doing this demeaning job than in a regular job. They often do 'sort of' make a choice to do so, but it's a tough choice that any woman with any ounce of feminism / self-respect would understand as a complex decision borne out of utter necessity. These women would need to be tough cookies. Incredibly tough. Bullet-proof self-esteem and not an ounce of self-doubt or feelings of insecurity.

    I wonder what the long term effect those sorts of jobs have on a woman's self-esteem and self-belief. How would people feel if it was their mother or daughter working there?

    And notice, I'm not even going in to what it means for society as a whole to now have a sexualised venue for eating a blessed poor quality burger and fries!

    I'm not a prude, but I respect women's rights and this place is sending out the wrong signals to society. We are not to be demeaned and regarded as sex objects for ogling. Paying a few extra quid to look at tightly-Tshirted breasts. These customers are fairly desperate. Of if that's their idea of fun, count me, my friends and my daughter out of it, and hopefully we'll be out of their sight when they come out of the great fun place that Hooters purports to be.

    In terms of posting reviews of Hooters…go for it. This is YOUR blog and you can review what you like! I would never go there (on principle), but your review has helped me understand why some people do end up going there by default rather than deliberate choice. This place exists and let's not censor some healthy debate about the rights and wrongs of it. Look forward to hearing your comments everyone!

    • The beginning of this review has to be the most ridiculously over the top thing I've read for a long time.

      Comparing Hooters to Prostitutes or porn and suggesting they are feeding a drug habit is like comparing McDonalds to an Opium Den.

      I've been to Hooters twice now and share Emily's ambivalence to the place. It is tacky and over priced but about as sexy as a seaside postcard.

      We live in a society that is already sexualised. Yes the watresses are wearing short shorts and a V neck t-shirt but that's about it. Anyone who gets their rocks off to that should be given a medal.

      On a Saturday night you would have to fight your way through drinkers wearing half the clothes of a Hooters girl to get there. Pick up a copy of the Sun or turn on the TV and you are surrounded by breasts. If you really wanted to ogle, Bristol is full of strip clubs. I'm afraid Hooters is just a TFI Fridays for adults not a Chicken and Fanny club.

      Like TFI Fridays, Hooters is nothing to shout about, but it is certainly not going to bring society to collapse.

      • Lol, this coming from the person who states with conviction that he would never allow his theoretical daughter to work there…

        Although I am not pro-Hooters, Kate's views in the first paragraph are extreme to say the least. It is completely absurd to suggest that these girls are feeding a drug habit and comparing them to the likes of prostitutes completely negates the points she set out to make. There is no denying that it is a demeaning job, but as said above, these girls have chosen to work there. You have to question their capacity to make this decision though when they willingly sign a contract stating 'I do not find my job duties, uniform requirements or work environment to be offensive, intimidating, hostile or unwelcome'- making it near impossible for them to complain about such issues should they arise. Emmeline Pankhurst would be rolling in her grave.

        As fun as Hooters is, it's brazen sexism and the fact that these restaurants are becoming so widespread is a concern. I just hope it's not going to normalise sexual objectification and twattish remarks like "get your tits out" and other such gems… as some men already seem to think that this is a completely reasonable thing to say to a woman. I fear that such an establishment will encourage things like this, although I hope I am wrong.

      • Hmm, interesting, Dan.

        I didn't mean to suggest in any respect that the Hooters women were drug-addicted or prostitutes. I was really asking Bristol Bites whether she would use her arguments, by extension, to explain why women chose these other professions that are demeaning to women. I realise it may seem a little bit exaggerated, but I am trying to make a controversial point.

        Some people (not me) regard looking at Page 3 girls, lapdancers and using prostitutes as a bit of harmless fun, a useful service to society, something for liberated women and men to enjoy. Others think that about Hooters. Everyone has their own moral level of how far they accept sexualised images of women to be normal or acceptable. I think I have always had a fairly low tolerance threshold on this matter. I don't see that it's harmless fun when women working for a company (e.g. Hooters) are required to accept a contract that signs away their rights to protection from sexual harassment. I think they might be on the first rung of the (admittedly very tall) ladder of female degradation. I'm not implying they will become prostitutes but I think they are contributing to a very negative image of women.

        No, of course Hooters isn't going to 'bring society to collapse' (would I dare say the words 'ridiculous' or 'over the top' here? Er…..) but it's all about the insidious effects of sexism. Places like Hooters do make a difference.

        Yes, our society is already sexualised. I don't regard this as a good thing that needs to have further endorsement, encouragement or even lazy acceptance. We need to let young men and women grow up to feel liberated, equal and respected.

        I quite fancy starting my next rant now….'Compare and contrast McDonalds and Opium Dens'. I am no fan of McDonalds (and would be just as likely to go there as I would to Hooters) and I bet I could find a link or two that unites them….

      • Annoyingly, wordpress only seems to allow replies to the original reply so this might be confusing to anyone not having read Lo and Kates replies below.

        When Lo says "this coming from the person who states with conviction that he would never allow his theoretical daughter to work there…" this comes from a previous jokey conversation to why I don't want a daughter because I think I will be completely over protective. I wouldn't want her working in any bar and she wouldn't be allowed a boyfriend till she's 30!

        Of course I'm not being serious. But I know I will be a stupidly overbearing Dad!

        @Kate – I like your response and in reply I would say that I have a high tolerance. I take the stance that if both parties are happy with something then, even if it's not my cup of tea, I don't see a problem.

        I know that sexism is an issue, but would point out that sex will always sell and it would take a lot to stop that. If you are an intelligent woman you will have less problem getting along in live than ever before in any culture. Hooters offers a role for people not interested in such a life.

        You must admit that equality also includes the freedom to choose to use your sex appeal for a better wage than you would get in most waitressing roles.

        @Lo – I read the contract you quoted and I don't understand your point. Any one choosing to work at Hooters has to accept the dress code. It's their brand like it or loath it.

  8. Chicken wing fan

    I haven't read all the replies but Hooters is good for buffalo chicken wings. There aren't many places serving it in the UK, let alone Bristol. On a Monday there aren't many places that are better value for money either.

    Underneath their skeletal outfits the waitresses are genuinely friendly and bubbly people. Table service is generally good except when they all crowd around someone to sing happy birthday, instead of serving the wings 🙁

    If you like buffalo chicken wings or would like to try them… try Hooters. Don't let the girls put you off…

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