The HOOTERS experience

By Janene Gibbons
January 29, 2009

Shannon Keough

“We are not out there to steal your boyfriends. I know that there is a certain stereotype that surrounds Hooters. When people don’t know something about a specific topic, they go off of what other people say,” Sam Randol, a waitress at the King of Prussia Hooters and senior English and communication major, said.

Upon entering a Hooters restaurant, one would see waitresses dressed in uniforms consisting of wide-strap white tank tops with cleavage popping out of the top and orange bottoms so short they might as well just wear underwear.

It might seem easy for people to get the wrong idea about this popular “family restaurant” with an attire like that, but those who are associated with Hooters either by being a customer or waitress tend to have a much more open-minded point of view.

“As a society, over time we have become more comfortable with sex and being more provocative.

We were very behind on that. It has become much more accepted because it has expanded.

There are things that have become much worse, like porn, which makes Hooters seem more tame,” Randol said.

The image that Hooters portrays does carry a certain misconception that the girls who work there all have big breasts. Randol said that it is true that Hooters does have some girls who do fall into the stereotypical image but it is not a requirement to be a certain size or measurement.

She said, “We have girls there that are more flat-chested and have more of a butt. We have girls that are a little more on the bigger side.”

Randol, who grew up in a beach community and spends a good amount of time in her bathing suit, is comfortable with her uniform.

She said that she was more uncomfortable in her track uniform for school because her legs were completely uncovered.

“People underestimate the stockings,” Randol said. She describes the stocking that goes along with the Hooters uniform as very thick. She said if the uniform didn’t have them, then she would feel uncomfortable.

When asked about the customers motives in response to the uniforms of a Hooters girl Randol said, “Guys will go there to look at a pretty girl and to flirt but I don’t think that is specific to Hooters. If you go to another restaurant and you think the waitress is pretty, you’ll keep going back to try and see her. Yeah, perhaps we are a little more conducive to that type of thinking because of our uniforms but it’s not specific to us.”

“Usually, there are a token two or three girls in here,” Lauren Fulginitti, a waitress at the King of Prussia Hooters and junior business major, said. Hooters doesn’t just bring in the men though. There was a group of older women, lots of couples and a dad with his 14-year-old and 12-year-old sons. Fulginitti said, “Kids eat for free on Saturdays.”

“We get families all the time. We have all kinds of little kids and older kids. I have seen children of all ages there. People don’t believe that families do come here. We get groups of straight girls because the food is good. I know a ton of my girlfriends like going there for the food,” Randol said.

Michael Stevenson, a retired father of two sons, agrees for the most part. Stevenson said, it really does depend on a child’s age, when trying to discern if Hooters is an appropriate restaurant or not.

He said his kids like the wings but they also like seeing the girls and he thinks that is good to expose his sons to that type of atmosphere.

He went on to explain his feelings that your first experience at Hooters is a lot different than your fifth and for his sons the novelty has worn off. Stevenson said, “Women enjoy being admired. It’s a natural thing. A beautiful woman is a beautiful woman.”

Hooters is defined by many as a laid-back sports bar and a guys’ kind of a place but a lot of couples go there as well.

Sarah Barr, sophomore biological science major at Montgomery County College, feels comfortable going to Hooters with her boyfriend Michael Warner II, sophomore software engineer major at Montgomery County College.

The couple described Hooters as a place where all their friends can hang out. Barr says her boyfriend also likes to come to watch the fights and Fantasy Football and that she doesn’t have a problem at all with the girls because she grew up in a family with a lot of girls. The couple said they are both very liberal and that misconceptions that Hooters is degrading towards women comes from closed-minded people.

Fulginitti explained that normally a girl will take her boyfriend to Hooters as a treat so she will be the one who is paying. Fulginitti is talkative with the girl in this case, which she says is fine because she loves talking to girls.

If a group of guys does come there to flirt, both waitresses can attest to flirting.

“I have friends that are servers at other places and they turn on the charm. The nicer you are to your customers, the bigger tip you get. As a server it is important to make sure that your customers feel welcome, have a good time and want to come back,” Randol said.

When asked if she thinks the direct marketing of sex appeal is a cheap shot to attract more men, Randol said, “There are so many things that are marketed towards women these days and men are very simple. You give them the combination of beer, wings and women and it will get people in the door.”

It was made clear by both Randol and Fulginitti that Hooters girls are not allowed to be touched and if anyone says anything out-of-line the manager kicks them out immediately.

On the topic of venues such as strip clubs, Randol said, “I guess people that are supportive of places like that, their mentality is ‘if you have it use it.’ I guess it’s power. It’s not perhaps the best way to use it [but also] not necessarily a bad thing. Personally, I don’t feel like being put on the same level as that because it’s two completely different things. I am a waitress. I am a server.”

Misconceptions, judgments and backlash are definitely something both Randol and Fulginitti know something about.

“I find that people are very hypocritical. Nobody likes to be outwardly judged. Some girls just give you the look. I mean that’s your opinion but I find it kind of insulting,” Randol said.

When asked about the negative views others have towards her current occupation, Randol said, “People who are naturally more conservative aren’t going to like anything that is a little provocative.”

Both Randol and Fulginitti say the same thing when they are asked what they like about Hooters.

Fulginitti said, “I love everything about it. It’s fun.”

Randol said, “It’s the first time I have a job I like going to. I like the fact that they encourage you to talk to your customers. I feel like it’s a very welcoming atmosphere; it’s fun.”

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Janene Gibbons

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