Photo: Hooters Japan
business

Hooters closing first location in Japan as chain’s downsizing continues

49 Comments
By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

It was with great fanfare in 2010 that Hooters, famous for the spiciness of its chicken wings and the size of its servers’ chests, arrived in Japan. The chain’s first Japanese branch opened in Tokyo’s Akasaka neighborhood in October of that year, but unfortunately for anyone hoping to celebrate the eatery’s 10th anniversary this fall, that’s not going to be an option.

On Aug 14, Hooters Japan announced that the Akasaka branch will be closing, releasing a statement in the characteristically respectful tone of the Japanese food and hospitality industry.

“Hooters Akasaka branch will be closing on August 21, 2020. Since opening as the first Hooters in Japan in 2010, many customers have dined with us, but do to various circumstances the branch’s continued operation has become difficult, and we hope for your understanding in this matter.

We wish to express our sincere gratitude for the patronage shown to Hooters Akasaka, and ask that in its absence you choose to dine at our branch in Ginza.”

This development is the latest in a string of struggles for the chain in Japan, most notably filing for bankruptcy protection in the spring of last year.

The question then becomes why Hooters is having trouble in Japan. After all, it’s a country that feels little embarrassment about open admiration of the female form and spending lavishly on eating out, so shouldn’t the bosomy basket of goods and services offered by Hooters be a recipe for success?

Maybe one reason for Hooters Japan’s troubles can be summed up by the Japanese phrase chu to hampa (“in the middle with just a bit more”), which describes something that’s between two desirable situations, but not enough like either to really make anyone happy. For decades before Hooters showed up in the country, Japan already had countless hostess bars where men who wanted food, drink, and the companionship of lovely ladies could procure all three, and where the hostess would sit and chat with him for his entire stay. Hooters waitresses, however, have other tables to take care of, and while they may be happy to spend a brief moment for a little chitchat or to take a quick photo as they drop off your order, they’re soon off to do the same with other customers.

At the same time, Hooters’ uniforms, featuring tight, low-cut tops, are definitely outside of mainstream food service attire (especially since Japanese fashion doesn’t show a lot of cleavage in general), so it’s not the kind of place you can eat at without also implicitly saying “Ya know, I really do like big boobs.” That leaves the chain in a sort of limbo where the atmosphere of “Here are pretty girls!” is too much a part of the experience for anyone who isn’t craving eye candy, yet there also isn’t enough prolonged interaction with said pretty girls to compete with what’s offered at hostess bars or, to a lesser extent, maid cafes.

Hooters Japan’s choice of physical locations for its branches might not have been the best either. Yes, Akasaka is in downtown Tokyo, which means there are a lot of people/potential customers milling about. But it also has an image as a high-class, refined part of town, so it’s not most people’s first choice of place to hang out if they’re after the slightly rowdy fun Hooters promises. Hooters’ now-closed Shinjuku branch likely had similar problems, since it was located on the west side of Shinjuku Station, near department stores and electronics shops, and not on the opposite side of the rail hub where Japan’s busiest bar district is.

The Akasaka Hooters closure makes the Ginza branch the chain’s last remaining location in Japan. In terms of the local vibe, Ginza has a lot of similarities with Akasaka, though, so it’s likely going to be an uphill battle for the brand.

Source: Hooters Japan via IT Media via Otakomu

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

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© SoraNews24

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

49 Comments
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Hooters was never my kind of place to chill out.

-14 ( +8 / -22 )

Hooters was never my kind of place to chill out.

No surprises there then.

25 ( +25 / -0 )

Hooters downsizing? Wasn't that/ isn't that the opposite of their Business model?

25 ( +26 / -1 )

I don't now about Japan, but ...

In my area, the food ain't no good.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I tried Hooters a few times in Tokyo but it is mostly overhyped, greasy food at high prices and the orange color irritates me for some reason. I am much more satisfied at my local yakitoriya with grilled chicken, cold beer and cute servers.

9 ( +13 / -4 )

with the huge variety of hostess clubs, snacks, and related establishments in Japan, it is very difficult for them to survive

11 ( +11 / -0 )

Going the same way as Hooter's Airline.....flat lined.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

"...famous for the spiciness of its kitchen’s wings"

Kitchen's wings?

Kitchens do not have wings.

Perhaps you meant to say 'chicken wings'?

Moderator: Yes, that typo has been fixed. Thanks.

11 ( +13 / -2 )

It was inevitable. Yaaawn.....

Place can be fun, most of the women are cute, but they need to get rid of the pantyhose! Shorts with pantyhose is just horrible, reminds me of the 70’s.

5 ( +13 / -8 )

We have a Hooters in Fukuoka, what are they talking about?

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

I heard that there was a problem finding staff with cleavage....

6 ( +12 / -6 )

the picture above speaks volumes and says it all. very unjapanese, the girls, demeanor, attire, food, omotenashi, etc. next.

-8 ( +3 / -11 )

bass4funk: "We have a Hooters in Fukuoka, what are they talking about?"

HAD a Hooter's there. That was the first one to go, along with one of the branch shops in the greater Tokyo area. They announced that other locations would be safe for the time being, despite business not being all that great. The company was then sold to some idiot from Nagoya who is stinking rich but has zero business sense. He decided in that very month that he wanted to invest more in the Nagoya -- voted most boring prefecture in Japan -- branch and would close Osaka before the end of the very same month to save money. Boom. That was the death blow. While rent for the place in Osaka, because it was in Hommachi area, was high, it was doing more than enough to keep open, with a huge number of regulars and one of the only places with excellent pub fare and entertainment (not just the women, but major sporting events). The staff didn't even know about it.

Anyway, I was never a big fan until I first went, then I was... and not because of the women, who were great people and some of whom I still chat with, but because the chicken wings first and foremost were second to none, you could get Philly cheesesteaks, and umpteen dozen other things that, while very unhealthy, you cannot easily get elsewhere and which usually stink if you do. It's a shame to hear that the main shops are now on the chopping block, but with the mismanagement by the moron who bought the Japan franchise, I'm not at all surprised.

8 ( +12 / -4 )

Anyway, I was never a big fan until I first went, then I was... and not because of the women, who were great people and some of whom I still chat with, but because the chicken wings first and foremost were second to none

Yeah. I don't like Hooters as a concept, but the chicken wings are really good. Annoyingly good. That said, I think my first trip to Hooters in Shibuya on a Sunday lunchtime, when it was really quiet with only three other men, all on separate tables sipping Bloody Marys (presumably nursing hangovers) while the waitresses brought maximum pep when delivering their wings was one of the most depressing scenes I've seen in my life.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Hey just next to that ex awful hooters there is one of the best mapotofu in Tokyo, "Chen Mapo Tofu Akasaka", definitely worth a try if you're around.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Damn I love me some hooters

1 ( +4 / -3 )

It won't be missed...

3 ( +6 / -3 )

I went here (Akasaka) when they first opened it / first day, thinking I might find some chics hanging out to have a beer with, nope. High prices, no single chics = never went back.

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

Why would you expect to see single women at Hooters!? Do you go to hostess bars to pick up chicks, too?

8 ( +10 / -2 )

HAD a Hooter's there. That was the first one to go, along with one of the branch shops in the greater Tokyo area. They announced that other locations would be safe for the time being, despite business not being all that great. The company was then sold to some idiot from Nagoya who is stinking rich but has zero business sense. He decided in that very month that he wanted to invest more in the Nagoya -- voted most boring prefecture in Japan -- branch and would close Osaka before the end of the very same month to save money. Boom. That was the death blow. While rent for the place in Osaka, because it was in Hommachi area, was high, it was doing more than enough to keep open, with a huge number of regulars and one of the only places with excellent pub fare and entertainment (not just the women, but major sporting events). The staff didn't even know about it. 

Anyway, I was never a big fan until I first went, then I was... and not because of the women, who were great people and some of whom I still chat with, but because the chicken wings first and foremost were second to none, you could get Philly cheesesteaks, and umpteen dozen other things that, while very unhealthy, you cannot easily get elsewhere and which usually stink if you do. It's a shame to hear that the main shops are now on the chopping block, but with the mismanagement by the moron who bought the Japan franchise, I'm not at all surprised.

Thanks for letting me know, I have no idea, I thought they were still open. Lol

anyway I’ve never been there, only in the states one time and I didn’t think it was all that and that kind of concept is pretty much all I think Hooters in today’s world just doesn’t really fit, not to mention the other places that have way better food

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Japanese chics will go to someplace like this out of curiosity, in Akasaka (where I used to work in a Hostess club), I expected to see a few, nope.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

I think we already noticed the "downsizing" in Japanese franchises.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Demeaning to women on every level. Glad it is gone. Surely someone has figured out how to make spicy chicken wings ("kitchen wings" not withstanding) in a less abysmally sexist venue. WA4TLG, "chicks" are baby chickens. Grow up.

-11 ( +5 / -16 )

Hooters manages to survive in Thailand even though BKK and Pattaya have far more appealing and cheaper options to choose from.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Demeaning to women on every level.

I would say that is quite a presumptuous attitude. Who appointed you moral arbiter for the diverse swathes of womankind?

8 ( +11 / -3 )

Demeaning to women on every level.

Oh my ghosh! You totally nailed. Women should save that stuff for their husbands at home.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

I went here (Akasaka) when they first opened it / first day, thinking I might find some chics hanging out to have a beer with, nope.

No woman in her right mind would be "hanging out" in such a place. If you want a prostitute, maybe you should think a bit harder about where to find one.

2 ( +9 / -7 )

No woman in her right mind would be "hanging out" in such a #%$**# place. If you want a prostitute, maybe you should think a bit harder about where to find one.

Personally, I found Hooters tacky rather than sleazy. There's no reason why women would not go there other than that they didn't like the food.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Prefer it in the U.S. where I am surrounded by big screen TVs each showing a different game. I feel more hyped when sports are going on.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Below is from 3 years ago in 2018:

HOOTERS Australia has once again been placed in voluntary administration, less than two years after its new owner vowed to breathe fresh life into the controversial “breastaurant” chain.

It’s the latest blow for the American sports bar, infamous for its scantily clad waitresses dubbed “Hooters girls”, which has struggled to gain acceptance in the Australian market since opening its first location more than a decade ago.

Documents filed with the corporate regulator on Wednesday show Veritas Advisory has been appointed as administrator for Hotr Australia Pty Ltd and its subsidiary companies that operate Hooters restaurants in Parramatta, Penrith, Campbelltown and the Gold Coast.

Now only their Paramatta branch is still open.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I didn’t think it was all that and that kind of concept is pretty much all I think Hooters in today’s world just doesn’t really fit, not to mention the other places that have way better food

Hooters does have this bad halfway house situation where it’s not as “sexy” as a strip club (not that I’ve been to one, because the thought is wildly unsexy to me) but the food isn’t as nice as a quality restaurant, but it’s still expensive. But as I say, the wings are so good that occasionally I’m happy to drop some yen for ‘em.

Japanese chics will go to someplace like this out of curiosity, in Akasaka (where I used to work in a Hostess club), I expected to see a few, nope.

Uh yeah “check out girls prancing in short shorts for an American brand” not appealing to Japanese women isn’t surprising to me.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

There's no reason why women would not go there other than that they didn't like the food.

How about this reason?... Seeing women, unable to get a better job, objectified as pieces of meat to be stared at would turn the stomach of other women lucky enough not to have to stoop so low.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

I hope this survives in one location in Japan, like A&W Burger in Okinawa. It's dull to have the same chains in every town, but limit the locations, especially if they are in the provinces, and you end up with something quirky and kind of cool.

“in the middle with just a bit more” is a poor translation of chuto hanpa. The best English for a context like Hooters is "half @ssed". To me, Hooters looks like a diner, so its competition in Japan is izakaya, somewhere you go to eat. Hostess bars are somewhere you go later to drink. They are also known as "snakku" because that is all you eat at a hostess bar. You don't go there to eat for sustenance.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Seeing women, unable to get a better job, objectified as pieces of meat to be stared at would turn the stomach of other women lucky enough not to have to stoop so low.

Very ugly. These women are not ‘low’ for choosing this job.

I was brought up never to sneer at people doing a honest day’s work. A very good principle.

13 ( +16 / -3 )

@Jimizo

I was definitely not "sneering" at them. I'm saying that it's almost certainly (in 90-odd% of cases) very far from the "dream job" of the women forced to take it, because they can't find anything better.

Very ugly? Yes. Being ogled like you're a piece of meat would definitely count as ugly.

Would you like to do your job in a skimpy bathing costume, and listen to people commenting on the condition of your body? (Oh, yeah... you're "the Rock" in Japan, and you'd love it. Don't bother telling me.)

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

Would you like to do your job in a skimpy bathing costume, and listen to people commenting on the condition of your body?

I take it you have never heard of the Chippendales?

There are plenty of fit, good-looking men and women out there who have made careers for themselves catering to members of both sexes who are more than happy to pay money to watch them scantily clad.

I am not convinced those individuals in skimpy clothing are the ones being exploited.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Hooters couldn't compete against Maid Cafe in Japan.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Downsizing Hooters. Is that the breast idea?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

@Jimizo

I was definitely not "sneering" at them

You called them ‘low’. Calling people earning an honest living ‘low’ is ugly. I can’t stand snobbery.

I'm saying that it's almost certainly (in 90-odd% of cases) very far from the "dream job" of the women forced to take it, because they can't find anything better.

Where are you getting these numbers from? What about the others? Are they ‘low’?

I knew a Japanese girl from my local bar who worked in a lingerie pub to pay her way through college. Is she ‘low’?

As for earning a living this way, I’d have done it to pay through college or until a better paying job came along. Call me ‘low’ if you like.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Hooters couldn't compete against Maid Cafe in Japan

Oh my, hadn't heard of those ^_^ On the other side of the Pacific, Hooters has to contend with topless coffee shops. o_O

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I'm disappointed, but not too surprised that the idea hasn't gone too well in Japan. Much dirtier maid cafés and hostess clubs serve a very different purpose and clientèle. Hooters is just a fun place to go with good scenery and good sports bar food. Just doesn't match the Japanese psyche.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Oh my, hadn't heard of those ^_^

Wha...? People going to Hooters to pick up girls, others have never heard of maid cafes... did I get off the train into a different universe this evening?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Patricia Yarrow: "Demeaning to women on every level."

Thought that before I went there, but a woman was the manager, and all the staff except one women, and every single one of them loved working there (well, it "was just a job" sometimes, depending on the mood). What's demeaning is you telling them they CAN'T or SHOULDN'T work there because of your view of what the place is.

bass4funk: Yeah, of course there is better food in lots of places,

1 ( +4 / -3 )

bass4funk: ... (continued) but in terms of Western-style pub-grub there's not a whole lot. Hard Rock Cafe and Outback have decent steaks, and SOME okay food, but a lot of their (junk) food is comparatively crap. As for the Hooters in the US, I've never been, but from what I've been told they are a lot trashier. That trashiness is kind of why I stayed away for a long time, and when it wasn't that way it's one thing I liked about it. Families were there all the time in the afternoon, and tables of only women, etc.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Locations were in the wrong places the food was not so great , it had a cheesy atmosphere contrived and feeble, but get a better location, fix the menu it could be a hit, everyone wants more american type food joints in tokyo, just if they can get it right with out the japanese screwing it up and japanonising

it.

Need more american wing type joints not less

1 ( +2 / -1 )

It’s very obvious who, despite however long having lived in Japan, continues with their own way of thinking...you accept Hostess Clubs as a place to rent a girl / female and instantly associate this restaurant as such. Some people never adjust to their environment.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Hooters wasn’t that good anyways!

The Food was mediocre at best and a lot of FLAT Chested Chicks anyways!

T.G.I.F or Hard Rock has much better food! (Minus the Hooters, Pmsl!)

1 ( +2 / -1 )

and here I thought "Hooters" was just another owl café.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

continued) but in terms of Western-style pub-grub there's not a whole lot. Hard Rock Cafe and Outback have decent steaks, and SOME okay food, but a lot of their (junk) food is comparatively crap. As for the Hooters in the US, I've never been, but from what I've been told they are a lot trashier. That trashiness is kind of why I stayed away for a long time, and when it wasn't that way it's one thing I liked about it. Families were there all the time in the afternoon, and tables of only women, etc.

I agree, HRC was Ok, but I think from a quality perspective Friday’s is much better, but the Japanese just don’t easily warm up to western restaurants as for example South Koreans do where you have a lot more and Koreans tend to frequent them more. I remember when Little Caesar’s Pizza came here at Meinohama station, it lasted only 6 months before they closed and left the market.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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