Houston Community News >> Hooters in China

4/2/2007 HANGZHOU, China (Reuters Life) -- Restaurant chain Hooters Inc., famous for its spicy chicken wings and waitresses in skimpy orange runner shorts, will expand in China by opening two restaurants, sources familiar with the matter said Friday.

Hooters, which targets mostly male customers and calls its female waitresses 'Hooters Girls,' opened its first branch in China three years ago in Shanghai.

Hooters plans to open two new outlets - one in Beijing and one in the eastern historical city of Suzhou - before the end of the year to attract businessmen and expatriates, entertainment industry sources told Reuters.

They added Hooters' Beijing outlet, near the Workers' Stadium, would open in the first half of this year.

"Hooters is focusing on two types of customers in China: Expatriates who are living and working in China and business travelers who go to China for a short stay," said a source close to Hooters.

The company, established in 1983 in Florida, also plans to open a Hooters restaurant in Suzhou, near Shanghai, though it has not decided on the exact location in the city popular among foreign tourists for its ancient Chinese gardens, the sources said.

Hooters' first Shanghai restaurant was now profitable, the sources added. Hooters' Shanghai-based office was not immediately available for comment.

Beijing's Workers' Stadium was built by the government five decades ago as a tribute to China's Communist working class. But the area has since become a center of bars and restaurants popular with expats and business travelers.

Hooters made its debut in China in 2004 with a restaurant in Shanghai, and the U.S. chain moved into tourist city Hangzhou, near Shanghai, late last year.

Last April, the company also opened its second outlet in Shanghai in Pudong New Area, China's emerging Wall Street where most foreign bankers and managers work and live.

Each of its outlets in Shanghai and Hangzhou currently employs around 10 Hooters Girls, and Hooters, or "owl restaurant" in Chinese after its logo, is hoping to hire more to keep up with its rapid expansion in China, the sources said.

A full-time Chinese Hooter Girl can earn about 3,500 yuan ($450) a month, the sources said. The company is also hiring part-time waitresses, mostly university students with fluent English, for around 2,000 yuan a month.

In comparison, a McDonald's waitress in Shanghai earns around 1,000 to 1,500 yuan a month.

"Some of the officials believe that having a Hooters in your city shows a friendly and open attitude to attract foreign tourists and investors," said the source.

"It's no longer China in the 1960s now," he said, "Next year, you may see more Hooters in many Chinese tourist cities."

Privately held Hooters has said international expansion will be its business focus and plans to open branches in Israel, Colombia, Dubai, Guam, New Zealand and India.

"Business here runs very well so far. Sometimes you will see the room is so full and some customers have to queue up outside," said one Hooters Girl in Hangzho.

(Contributed by Reuters)