Hooters — the privately-held restaurant based in Atlanta that brands itself as "delightfully tacky, yet unrefined," perhaps best knows for their busty girls and chicken wings — officially opens its doors at the Rohnert Park location Jan. 30.
The company boasts 455 chains, from Argentina and Austria, to Mexico and the Phillippines. The new Rohnert Park location, at 6099 Redwood Dr., makes six in the Bay Area. The others are in San Francisco, Dublin, Fremont, San Bruno and Campbell.
"We wanted to have a presence in the North Bay — it's the perfect place to be," said Doug Kappy, Hooters' vice president of operations. "It's right by the college, and there's lots of national chains that do really well here like Outback, Chili's, Applebee's and Olive Garden. We look at that."
The location, adjacent to Costco, will have 100 employees, 80 in the front of the house alone. Kappy didn't have any real numbers, but he said "a lot" of them are Sonoma State University students.
"We pretty much have our opening team, but we're always accepting applications," he said.
That the restaurant could serve as an economic engine in a town with a commercial vacancy rate nearing 45 percent, and with , was a plus for the city.
Although it wasn't up to planning commissioners to allow or disallow Hooters to move in to town, many said they were in favor of it.
"We want businesses to come to Rohnert Park and succeed," said Vice Chairperson Susan Adams in July. "The property is zoned for this kind of restaurant, and as for the restaurant itself, the market is going to decide whether or not it does well."
Commissioner Gerard Giudice agreed that any new business that can attract people to Rohnert Park, and fill a void in the city's vacant properties is a good thing.
"It's economic development, and it's great," said Giudice, who also owns a restaurant in town, . "It'll take up some dead space and It's positive that businesses are looking at Rohnert Park and seeing us as a vibrant place that's up-and-coming."
"I support anything that fosters investment in Rohnert Park," said Commissioner John Borba. "Our job isn't to decide the type of restaurant, just to look at if it fits the city's zoning."
The restaurant displaced two existing businesses on the property that was built in 2006, according to the building's owner, Leroy Knibb, of Codding Enterprises.
CPS Audio Video and White Glove Smog Check, which are both currently on month-to-month leases will have to relocate, Knibb said this summer. The restaurant will use most of the property's parking spots and 18 additional spots. The city worked with the company to install safety elements including a crosswalk from the sidewalk on Redwood Drive to the parking lot. Planners said the restaurant can't have more than 197 seats.
The original Hooters opened in Clearwater, Florida in 1983. According to the company, the uniforms and logo have remained essentially the same since it's opening. The company says that "Hooters has proven successful in small-town America, major metropolitan areas and internationally."
Many Rohnert Park residents voiced concern recently on the Rohnert Park Patch Facebook page, and in our about bringing in another chain to the city's west side. . Others saw it as a positive for sales tax revenues here, which are .
The restaurant, which according to its website, features a casual beach theme, oldies music and a menu that includes seafood, sandwiches, salads and spicy chicken wings. Systemwide, the company "generates and averages 68 percent of its sales from food, 4 percent from merchandise and 28 percent from beer, wine and spirits."
Hooters rebuts a common complaint, that it demeans women (which many local readers voiced concern about), saying its girls are no different than a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader.
"To Hooters, the women’s rights movement is important because it guarantees women have the right to choose their own careers, be it a Supreme Court justice or Hooters girl," the company says.
They acknowledge that they're "not a typical family restaurant." Data show that 69 percent of its customers are male, most between the ages of 25-54. And although Hooters says it does not market itself to families, 10 percent of the parties the company serves include children. They offer a children's menu as well.
Hooters will open at 10 a.m. the whole first week — from Jan. 30 through Feb. 5. Then hours are 11 a.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday, from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sundays.