Hooters gambles on Tel Aviv perch

US restaurant chain known for its attractive waitresses' low-cut T-shirts to open 1st branch in Israel.

hooters 298.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
hooters 298.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Hooters, the popular US restaurant chain known for its attractive waitresses' low-cut T-shirts, is set to open its first branch in Israel this summer, the company said in a press release Monday. Hooters of America, Inc. announced that it has entered into an exclusive franchise agreement with Ilana and Ofer Ahiraz to open in the greater Tel Aviv area. "A location has not yet been found but we hope to be open towards the end of the summer," Ofer Ahiraz told The Jerusalem Post. Asked why he thought Hooters would succeed when other gimmicky food establishments, such as the Hard Rock Caf and Planet Hollywood had failed to last in Israel, Ahiraz said: "Those places came as single restaurants, we will operate like a chain." He said he expected to open other branches in Eilat, Haifa and maybe even Jerusalem. "I don't think there will be a backlash against the restaurant," Ahiraz said. In the US, where Hooters has more than 430 restaurants, women's groups say the sexy uniforms and the all-female bartender concept is degrading to women. Hooters has successful franchises in 23 other countries, including China, Australia, Switzerland and Brazil, with branches to open soon in Colombia, Dubai, Guam, New Zealand and India. "International expansion is a major focus for our company and we are very happy to add Israel to our family," Hooters' executive vice president of franchise operations John Weber said. "The vibrant, fun-loving Israeli community suits the all-American, casual-dining theme that Hooters restaurants are known for. I am positive that the Israeli's quest for great food and atmosphere will end at Hooters." The Hooters brand has become a popular culture icon in the US. In addition to restaurants, Hooters has launched a credit card, energy drink, magazine, calendar, food products for grocery stores and a casino hotel in Las Vegas.