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…
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…
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.
Address: Unit 2, Building 11, Harbourside, Bristol BS1 5SZ
Telephone: 0117 930 0750