executive impact

A Hooter here and a Hooter there

57 Comments
By Chris Betros and Rena Iwama

Japan’s first Hooters restaurant and sports bar opened at Tokyu Plaza by Akasakamitsuke subway station on Oct 25. It has taken nearly five years of negotiations between Hooters Japan and the company’s head office in Atlanta to bring the famous franchise to Japan. Since the first Hooters opened in 1983 in Florida, the company has expanded to now operate in 455 locations in 44 U.S. states and 28 countries.

In Japan, the brand’s logo, uniform, menu and ambiance will be the same as back in the U.S., as will the menu of seafood, sandwiches, salads and spicy chicken wings. And of course, no Hooters would be complete without the famous sexy Hooters girls.

These are busy times for Mitsuo Tanabe, one of the partners of Hooters Japan. Originally from Tokyo, Tanabe joined hooters Japan four years ago after having spent 18 years at McDonald’s Japan as a store manager and operations manager.

Japan Today visits the Hooters restaurant to get an eyeful and hear more about the business.

Why has it taken so long for Hooters to open its first restaurant in Japan?

I think the headquarters in the U.S. spent a long time making a decision because they were very sensitive about which company should get the franchise and what the potential for Japan might be. They didn’t want to pick a company that operated nightclubs or cabarets, for example, and they didn’t want a company that already ran several restaurants. They turned down offers from those sorts of companies. What they were looking for was a company that could differentiate Hooters from those nightlife places.

How strict is HQ on the operation in Tokyo?

Of course, they have minimum rules on the concept, menu, uniforms, interior design and so on. They sent a management team over here and some Hooters girls to train our girls.

Is the menu the same as in the U.S.?

Yes, but one small addition is that we offer a pasta lunch here, which is different from the U.S. I think that our customers come here expecting an Americans dining experience. As time goes by, we may think of including some original items for Japanese consumers. We are open from 11 a.m. until 11 p.m., so you can dine all day.

Of course, the image of Hooters has a lot to do with the famous Hooter girls, doesn’t it?

That’s true, but we’re not emphasizing the overt sex appeal of the girls, although, of course, we expect lots of guys to come here to see the girls. It’s not the image of Hooters that we want. Instead, we want to emphasize the restaurant’s qualities as being healthy, friendly and hospitable.

How many Hooters girls do you have?

We have 40, including 10 foreign girls from the U.S., Europe and other places. We’ll probably hire 10 more. Even before we started advertising for waitresses, girls had seen our home page and we got more than 400 applications from girls of all ages. A lot of them were big fans of Hooters. Some were models and comfortable with the exposure that they’ll get as Hooter girls. Basic English, a friendly manner and good communication skills are the main requirements for the girls.

Will they be eligible for next summer’s Miss Hooters world contest in Florida?

Yes, one Japanese waitress will be selected to represent Hooters Japan at the contest. It won’t be management that picks her. Rather, our VIP customers will vote for the winner.

How hard was it to find this location for your first store?

We were looking for a long time. There are some conditions from head office. Hooters can’t be in a basement and it can’t be up high in a building because those locations are associated more with nightclubs rather than with family restaurants.

What are your expansion plans?

We plan to open one a year until we have 10. The next one will be in Tokyo and then we will start looking at the greater Tokyo metropolitan area. Somewhere like Ginza or Shinagawa would be good. Roppongi is not at the top of our list, although somewhere like Tokyo Midtown would be OK. But we don’t want to be on the main Roppongi street because then the restaurant runs the risk of attracting the wrong sort of people off the streets. We have to think of the girls’ safety.

How are you marketing the restaurant?

We have only done limited advertising, mainly in the Japanese language version of Daytona magazine. That is popular with middle-aged readers who love American culture. We have been fortunate in that many media have come to us. However, our rule is that they do not focus on the Hooter girls.

Amid the recession, is now a good time to open a restaurant?

Yes. For one reason, property prices have gone down, making it easier for us to acquire locations. Another reason is more psychological. Workers have lost their energy. Hooters – with its positive and energetic vibes -- will pep them up.

For more information, visit www.hooters.co.jp

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.


57 Comments
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hooters.co.jp

The link to "ENGLISH" on their website does not work.

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I will be in Tokyo this week and will visit Hooters(strictly for research purposes only)and post a review here or on The Picture of the Day.

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next one in Osaka please.

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Rather, our VIP customers will vote for the winner.

And what is a VIP Customer? Carries alot of cash? Get's to do more than look?

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It's quite pricey, looking at the menu. Plus they add on a 10% service charge, which is unusual for a family restaurant in Japan.

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Plus they add on a 10% service charge

Actually, it's a 5% service charge. It's 10% because each girl has two of them to offer 'looking services' for.

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If he thinks people are gonna go there for any other reason but the girls, he is surely mistaken!! Family restaurant my ass!!

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5 years to negotiate, but everything is the same as stateside. Weird

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Yup, the forgot the English links. Five years in the making. And the call it FOOTERS TOKYO! That is funny.

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I've only visited 1 foreign Hooters - in BsAs. "Something" was missing in the food that prevented it from tasting the same as back home in ATL. We can hope that the Tokyo Hooters gets it right.

IME, most foreign implementations of USA "sit down" restaurants can't match the taste from home and I usually leave disappointed or worse.

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"Hooter girls"

ugh. Girls, huh? Does that violate child labor laws? Is a girl a minor by definition? No? So these are women who don't object to being called girls, is that it? And she serves alcohol. So let me see, a girl has to be older than 20 or she can't be a girl. And if she is a woman, she can choose to be a girl. And if she gets too old, she can't be a girl anymore.

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"Hooters" are no big deal back in the world. I drove by the one in my hometown everyday for 10 years and never went in. Most people consider them a joke and would definitely go there more for the lunch special than the chicks. As for the inclusion of Japanese items on the menu in the future, it's not like there aren't dozens of Japanese food restaurants in that vicinity.

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Please open up Store No.2 in Fukuoka, and preferably on the first floor of my building.

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Yeh, what us in Western Japan. LIke....there are no people here! And the property prices are lower than Tokyo. HELLO.

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More news on the Hooters front. We really need it. Japan has been missing out on this one far too long.

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ROFLMAO!!!!! OMG This article just made my day. I guess they're going to seriously need to reduce the requirements for breast-size for their waiting-models for this location. And seriously? Someone thinks the sex appeal isn't the 'draw' for a HOOTERS???? how naive are these people? LOL!!!!!

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ditzy girls and bad food, hurray

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Gurukun: And what is a VIP Customer? Carries alot of cash? Get's to do more than look?

What, seriously? Come on, this is Hooters. It's not an opium den. They're about as controversial as a PG rated movie.

VIP customers, if memory serves, are frequent customers. I seem to remember having a card of some kind that gave me discounts and invites to events.

Great place to gather after work, have a few beers and some wings, and watch the game. If that's not your cup of tea, that's fine - but don't make this into something it isn't.

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I am so there!

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Western BBQ Burger 1680, Curly Fires 680, Asahi Super Dry 680. sub-total: 3040 yen...with tax and service charge, 3511 yen. For a family of four, 14,000 yen. Totally reasonable.

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And I forgot the slap in the face from my wife.

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Strewth, that aint reasonable. I could make that lot homemade for 4 for less than 4,000 Yen. Nearly 4,000 Yen a head for a fast food meal and a beer. There's one born every minute.

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Got this from Hooters: "Thank you for your interest in Hooters Restaurants. Currently, we do not have definite plans of putting a Hooters in Okinawa, however I would be more than happy to forward your email to our Franchisee for future reference when deciding on new site locations. Nevertheless; we will be opening our first Hooters Restaurant in Tokyo on October 25.

Thank you again for your suggestion and maybe one day soon we’ll see you at Hooters in Okinawa!"

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LOL> cactusJack :-D

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Oh common, one a year...ALL IN TOKYO....what about the rest of the country like Fukuoka...I think anywhere they open they will be succesful cos jmen love breasted women. Night life hostess places are over popular here, .... Tokyo is not the center of the universe...

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i'd like to go there with my husband :))

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Went to Hooters today for lunch with one of my co-workers. The atmosphere was ok. We had a really cute Japanese waitress named Tomoyo! Menu was is extremely limited and over priced. I had a cobb salad, 5 chicken wings and oolong tea (3,025 Yen). My co-worker had a burger, 5 wings and coke (3,025 Yen). Grand total = (6,050 Yen)=($74.41). In my opinion I dont think that the Hooters brand will last long in Japan unless they make some changes. I think Hooters Japan Franchise has to open 10 branches in the next couple of years. I cant see Hooters begin successful in Japan because their main customer base are Japanese salary men & women. This place is too expensive for salary person. They may go one or two times, but after the new car smell and theme wears off, Japanese will see IZAKAYAS and Kompas as a more economical and comfortable(culturally)way to have fun. Anyone who has lived in Japan long enough to understand the culture would agree I think. I dont think they can sustain enough repeat customers. Location is terrible also. I wish them the best of luck and hope they figure out a way to do well here in Japan.

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Holy smokes, 3000 yen for a burger meal!!!

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Tokyoguy, thanks for the review. It's a shame you went at lunch and couldn't enjoy a frosty mug of cord beer.

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Samui biru served by a pretty girl is the best.

Of course, the image of Hooters has a lot to do with the famous Hooter girls, doesn’t it? That’s true, but we’re not emphasizing the overt sex appeal of the girls, although, of course, we expect lots of guys to come here to see the girls. It’s not the image of Hooters that we want. Instead, we want to emphasize the restaurant’s qualities as being healthy, friendly and hospitable.

What?!? I remember a decade or so ago there was a guy who sued Hooters because he wanted to be a "Hooter Guy" server and they said "No". Hooters argued (and the courts agreed) that the Hooter Girl was an integral part of the Hooters franchise and to add guys as servers would damage the brand. They likened it to how the Playboy Bunny is integral to the Playboy corporation.

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I guess they're going to seriously need to reduce the requirements for breast-size for their waiting-models for this location.

There's no minimum bust size. You don't see many small-breasted women working there because they don't stay long (the tip-out isn't as good for them so they find a job with better pay).

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They don't hire waitress' they are employeed as "models" or "hooters girls" so they can turn people down based on their appearance.

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I'm not American so perhaps I don't get the importance of Hooters. But the number of articles relating to the opening of one new restaurant seems (wrongly I'm sure) to suggest a vested interest somewhere? I'm sure it's a dining experience all the same.

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Just realised that I said "I don't get the importance of Hooters". I should stress that I mean the resturant! Also a 'good' dining experience.

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There has been a rash of them closing in the USA. Maybe they'll do better in Japan. To me they are the original Maid Cafe.

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They don't hire waitress' they are employeed as "models" or "hooters girls" so they can turn people down based on their appearance.

I'm guessing you're speaking about just Hooters in Japan, because they ARE hired as waitresses in the States. That way they can pay the waitresses an hourly wage below the Federal minimum hourly wage. It's not just Hooters that does that, either. It's ALL restaurants in the U.S. Even as just waitresses, they STILL will let you go if you don't meet basic grooming standards (No visible tattoos - or the tats are covered with theatrical makeup, only certain hairstyles authorized and no wacky colors, and a healthy appearance - if you have bad acne, don't bother applying as a Hooter Girl.) There are a bunch of other rules that I don't remember anymore. As I said above, they consider the Hooters Girl image to be a franchise property and they aren't going to allow skanks to corrupt the image.

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motyrah.

I am with you there is no difference for me from a maid-cafe to a Hooters or any other place that requires to dress their waitresses in a certain fashion like a Dirndl(german/austrian/etc), Rakuten, etc.

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Same as America but 3 times the cost and can they find any Asian women to fit into the hooters top? are they going to sit on your lap to take your order as well? Another strange American restaurant opening here that will fail hiring a mc. Donald's manager to make it work. how many shots is the company shooting in the heart of their idea. They should have put an English teacher in charge of it. They know more about customer service.

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Hmm. I understand tipping is rare in Japan, so assuming all other things were equal between the American Hooters and the Japanese Hooters, the staffing costs alone for the Japanese Hooters would immediately be about double that of America. They can't underpay the waitresses by assuming they'll make up for it in tips. Now add in the increased costs to run a business in Tokyo compared to most places in the States, and I could easily see prices 2 to 3 times that of the Hooters in America.

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Fadamor, are you insane. Hooters Waits make a ton in tips every night. For women with looks, it is the place to be for tips. The Japan 1000 yen a hour system is insane. No service, Robotic everything, and all for a "FLAT" haha fee.

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A tad expensive for your ordinary sarariman to frequent regularly. I really wonder if they can manage to stay afloat for long. And they intend to open one store a year? Interestingly that's the same strategy for Hooter's China (4th store opened there this year). But then again I'd think it's not as expensive there for a burger or wings.

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Here is a video of Hooters. You decide whether this will work or not. As for me, my heart missed a beat when I saw Honda on the TV screen:)

type hooters tokyo on youtube.

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Here is a video of Hooters.

Wow, tough crowd.

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I just asked my colleagues here about going to Hooters. They saw the video and asked if I was joking with them.

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The Hooters waitresses certainly get plenty of exercise.

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Fadamor, are you insane. Hooters Waits make a ton in tips every night. For women with looks, it is the place to be for tips. The Japan 1000 yen a hour system is insane. No service, Robotic everything, and all for a "FLAT" haha fee.

1000 yen perhour isn't that bad. Waitresses in the U.S. (including the ones at Hooters) have to deal with $2.75 per hour (roughly 222 yen per hour), so they HAVE to rely on tips.

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$2.75 per hour is doubtful. The federal minimum wage law is $5.75. California is $8.50. Food is the last reason men go to Hooters. They go to see the hooters. Use a American slang dictionary.

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Well I covered this in more detail on an earlier post. Although I will say that I am sure these girls were hand picked by HQ personally. So to respond to a previous comment on healthy appearance, grooming, attitude etc etc. I doubt that is going to be an issue here. You don't spend the amount of time and money they have getting this here without choosing the absolute best girls they can. This is especially true for a new chain and being the first in Japan no less lol. HQ is going to be keeping a very close eye on this no doubt!

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Well, I've attempted to enter Hooters twice without success. The second time on Sunday evening there was a line of 30-40 people. I was by myself and noticed that there were several bar seats unoccupied(bar seats are limited,maybe 9-10 stools). So I asked the two young women at the front door if I have to wait to sit at the bar and they reply yes,even though the seats remained empty. Go figure. I think a good bet to visit is mid-afternoon between lunch and dinner.

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I am amused to say I recognized several furyo gaijin in those videos. The uniforms don't play to Japanese girls' charm points. Some adjustments may be in order...

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$2.75 per hour is doubtful. The federal minimum wage law is $5.75. California is $8.50. Food is the last reason men go to Hooters. They go to see the hooters. Use a American slang dictionary.

As I said before, restaurants are exempt from the Federal Minimum Wage law when it comes to paying their waitresses. Don't believe me? Visit your favorite restaurant in America and ask the waitress what she gets paid hourly (not counting tips). As it turns out, I was being generous. Restaurants only have to pay $2.13 per hour. From the United States Department of Labor website:

Question: Is it legal for waiters and waitresses to be paid below the minimum wage?

Answer: According to the Fair Labor Standards Act, tipped employees are individuals engaged in occupations in which they customarily and regularly receive more than $30 a month in tips. The employer may consider tips as part of wages, but the employer must pay at least $2.13 an hour in direct wages.

An employer may credit a portion of a tipped employee's tips against the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour effective July 24, 2009. An employer must pay at least $2.13 per hour. However, if an employee's tips combined with the employer's wage of $2.13 per hour do not equal the hourly minimum wage, the employer is required to make up the difference.

The employer who elects to use the tip credit provision must inform the employee in advance and must be able to show that the employee receives at least the applicable minimum wage (see above) when direct wages and the tip credit allowance are combined. If an employee's tips combined with the employer's direct wages of at least $2.13 an hour do not equal the minimum hourly wage, the employer must make up the difference. Also, employees must retain all of their tips, except to the extent that they participate in a valid tip pooling or sharing arrangement.

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Oh, and I'm well aware of the slang term usage of Hooters and why the eyes of the owl in the Hooters logo look the way they do.

So (bringing it back to Tokyo's Hooters) if we compare the prices at US Hooters - where they only have to pay $2.13 (171.675 yen) an hour for each Hooters Girl, and the Tokyo Hooters where they have to pay 1000 yen an hour for each Hooters Girl - I'm not surprised the prices in the Tokyo Hooters are two to three times higher than the States.

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Fadamor, I was not aware American servers were paid so little. I have always found tipping to be a vulgar custom. Well it explains why I get such dirty looks from them. Guess I will have to reform and start to pay tips while in America. Will go to a Hooters in the states with my friends. It will be interesting to see what type of food is served. I get to America a lot more than Tokyo and think it will be a long time before there is a Hooters in Okinawa. Really though $2.13 an our is just wrong, well when in Rome...

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Myself will skip Hooters but will still visit my local Sizzler(all my USA friends say it is way better than in the USA, includes vegans).

Really don't see the attraction of Hooters and the videos to me show a place with no ambience, etc.

Never mind that 1400 for a burger, IMHO, is highway robbery, heck I can get a small rack of ribs for that price.

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Most servers in America are resigned to not getting tips from foreigners because it seems that America is the only country that allows it's employers to get away with making the customers cough up the majority of the server's wages. Most other countries pay a basic living wage and tipping is the exception rather than expected in order for the server to live from month to month.

That said, Hooters Girls do NOT have trouble paying their monthly bills. The tips they receive more than make up the difference between what they're paid and the Federal Minimum Wage. And all they have to do is call you "honey" and "sweetie" and make you feel like they are your girlfriend (at least for the moment). It's really nothing but an American-style Maid Cafe that specializes in Buffalo Wings.

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Just watched the vid, most customers look bored or annoyed and there is definitely a lack of ambience. I'll have to go there in person to verify this though...

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Went there on Sunday: nice gals, so-so food, over-priced, curiously lacking atmosphere, weird chemistry in the place.

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