Monday, March 19, 2007
Hooters heading for Holy Land
U.S. restaurant chain Hooters, known for waitresses in low-cut blouses and short skirts, will open its first branch in Israel this summer, in the Mediterranean seaside city of Tel Aviv.
"I strongly believe that the Hooters concept is something that Israelis are looking for," Ofer Ahiraz, who bought the Hooters franchise for Israel, told Reuters Monday. "Hooters can suit the Israeli entertainment culture."
At Hooters, waitresses the company calls Hooters Girls serve spicy chicken wings, sandwiches, seafood and drinks.
Ahiraz said a specific location in Tel Aviv, Israel's most cosmopolitan city, had yet to be chosen, but he said it would not open restaurants near large religious populations, and they would not be kosher.
He said his plan was to open as many as five Hooters restaurants in the next few years, including one in the southern resort city of Eilat.
The Tel Aviv version of Hooters is expected to mimic most of the chain's other 430 restaurants in the United States and in 23 countries including China, Switzerland, Australia and Brazil.
Ahiraz said, however, he expected some minor modifications to meet Israeli tastes since U.S. chains have had a mixed response in Israel.
Food chains such as Starbucks, Dunkin' Donuts and Hard Rock Cafe failed, Kentucky Fried Chicken closed many locations, while others such as Burger King and McDonalds have thrived by altering their offerings to suit the Israeli market.
"It shows that if you are flexible and listen to your customers you can be a success story," Ahiraz said.
The opening of Hooters in Israel is part of the chain's global expansion. Privately held Hooters said it planned to open 17 restaurants in Colombia, Dubai, Guam, New Zealand and India in the next two years.
"International expansion is a major focus for our company, and we are very excited to add Israel to our family," John Weber, executive vice president of franchise operations for Hooters of America, said in a statement.