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Hooters hopes delivery service entices embarrassed eaters.

Hooters is about to find out if its food is as attractive as its scantily-clad waitresses. The burger and wings chain, which for all of its 34 years has presented its flirtatious staff in their short-shorts and plunging necklines as their No. 1 asset, will gently pivot in 2018 and start promoting a delivery service....
Time: 23:40     Date: 11.01.2018
Last US Business News: Hooters hopes delivery service entices embarrassed eaters. NY Post 24 - US News

The burger and wings chain, which for all of its 34 years has presented its flirtatious staff in their short-shorts and plunging necklines as their No. 1 asset, will gently pivot in 2018 and start promoting a delivery service.

While the transition has been easy for some chains — Red Robin, for example, has opened delivery-only restaurants — it promises to be a bit tougher for Hooters, whose 427 locations worldwide seem to exist mainly for customers to ogle the help.

But Chief Executive Terry Marks insists the food-delivery plan will work.

“Many people wouldn’t step foot in our restaurants, but they want our product,” Marks said.

So, the CEO, speaking at the recent ICR Retail conference in Orlando, said “delivery and pick-up orders is what we have been focusing on.”

“Delivery [solves] the polarizing issue the brand has had,” Marks said.

Hooters’ delivery business has grown by more than 30 percent over the past year — and no, “Hooter Girls” do not make the deliveries.

In 2016, only seven Hooters provided delivery or take-out service. That number now stands at 96 locations, according to Marks.

Hooters relies primarily on third-party services, including UberEats, DoorDash and Grubhub-Seamless.

“Everyone is doing delivery because it’s the only growing portion of the restaurant industry,” said restaurant analyst, Roger Lipton. “Dine-in patronage is down between 8 and 12 percent over the past year.”

But some industry experts questioned whether Hooters has what it takes to be a player.

The Midtown Manhattan Hooters generated some 191 reviews on Yelp of which 72 gave it a 1-star rating.

Meanwhile, Hooters, which pioneered the so-called breastaurant concept, has been working to upgrade its grub.

Last year, the company introduced smoked wings, which have been a huge hit, Marks said, accounting for 5 percent of sales at its restaurants.

Even as Hooters moves to improves its menu it is also revamping its physical restaurants, adding more craft beer handles — some now have as many as 40 — while doing away with its dark, imposing exteriors.

Now it is going with mostly glass exteriors.

“People who walk by our restaurants and might otherwise not come in can now see how much fun they are,” Marks said.

Sales at the new restaurants are on average $2.7 million per location — up from $2.1 million for their legacy restaurants.

The delivery service could also help to woo reluctant customers who might have been afraid of a disapproving spouse finding that Hooters receipt.

“Now if your partner sees a credit-card charge that says Hooters, you can say it was delivered,” said Wolf.

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