As Hooters continues its expansion across Asia, the restaurant that is well known for its uhm…Hooters, is looking to rebrand itself as a more family-friendly dining destination. One of the first moves is to do away with scantily clad waitress by adding a little more material to the uniform.
At a recently opened Hooters in Jakarta, along with a menu that features Halal food and kids’ meals, the waitresses, popularly known as Hooters Girls, will be dressed in t-shirts with higher necklines, longer skirts with shorts underneath and thicker stockings than in other parts of the world.
“We want to be culturally respectful,” said Neil Bailey, the president of Hooters Asia in an interview with Singapore’s Channel NewsAsia.
This is who we are. We know this is not acceptable so what would be acceptable?
Bailey said the Hooters team met with local officials and community leaders before the outlet in Kemang opened its doors.
“We sat down with members of the local governing boards and advisors of a mosque nearby. We showed them our website and said: ‘This is who we are. We know this is not acceptable so what would be acceptable?’ They gave us some suggestions and we asked for some time to work on them.”
Baily added that Hooters is simply following Marketing 101 –give the consumer what they want.
“We are still Hooters but we recognize that if we want to be a part of the community, we have to adapt to be embraced. So, as opposed to the attitude of ‘We are here and get used to it’, we say ‘We’d like to be here. Is this acceptable?’”
There was a concern at corporate HQ in American that the changes would dilute the well-established Hooters’ brand.
“Hooters of America was worried (that modifications would dilute the brand) but we didn’t have to take long to convince them. You can’t just come in with the mindset of ‘I’m here now so accept it’. It’s about adapting to your environment and knowing that you are the guest. When you recognize that, they will welcome you like any new neighbor.”
The uniforms have not been officially rolled out yet, but are expected to appear sometime this year. For now, there is no dilution of the brand in Jakarta as a Facebook post earlier this month on the Hooters Jakarta page shows.
Hooters plans to open more than 30 new Hooters restaurants across Southeast Asia over the next few years. It currently has outlets in Singapore, Jakarta, Thailand and Hong Kong.
According to Bailey, Hooters Asia is looking at expanding into Taipei, Manila, Koh Samui, Phnom Penh, Kuala Lumpur, Taipei, Manila, Koh Samui and Phnom Penh.