Friday, August 23, 2019

[UPDATE] Hoots Tweaks Name, Signs Third Atlanta Area Lease

ToNeTo Atlanta in February was first to report that the junior Hooters concept was expanding beyond their initial test near Chicago to include an outpost in Reynoldtown.  Now, with the Reynoldstown location still under construction, the company seems especially bullish on not only the concept, but metro Atlanta in particular.  Hooters will be opening not just one, but at least three, Atlanta area locations of their new quick-serve eatery Hoot's in the coming months.  Already underway and opening soon at Madison Yards in Reynoldstown, two additional locations are planned for Peachtree Corners Town Center in Peachtree Corners and North Decatur Station (fka North Decatur Square) near Decatur.
The first, and currently only Hoots, is in Cicero, a suburb of Chicago, and opened in February 2017 as a franchise unit.    The restaurant, which noticeably features less provocative uniforms and a co-ed front of house work force, offers a mini version of the full-serve Hooters restaurants, but in a counter service environment.  The company tweaked the menu, adding some items like a burger, but dropping many others, eventually cutting the menu by 55 percent, according to a Crain's Chicago Business article that quoted Will LeBas, Hoots director of development and operations.

The biggest change to the concept could be its name.

Launched as "Hoots" - A Hooters Joint, the restaurant's Madison Yards location will debut as "Hoot's Righteous Wings."  The two concepts have entirely separate websites with clear mention of Hooters and its relationship to Hooters Incorporated on the Hoots website, but zero mention of the corporate parent on the Righteous Wings website.

The big change the company did not make was to switch soda providers.  Sources say that like its parent company, Hoots will [continue to] serve the Pepsi family of non-alcoholic beverages rather than Coke products.

Hooters first opened in Clearwater, Florida in 1983.  In the decades since its launch, several other "breastaurants" have  launched chains, too, among them Twin Peaks and Tilted Kilt.  Many see the launch of Hoots as a way for the chain to stay relevant, and also a growth vehicle in the well performing quick-serve arena.

Headquartered in Atlanta, Hooters was acquired in July by Nord Bay Capital and TriArtisan Capital Advisors.  Previous Hooters owners Chanticleer Holdings and H.I.G. Capital retained stakes in the casual-dining chain.

According to Terry Marks, Hooters' CEO, the new ownership is bullish on the quick serve spin-off, and has plans to expand it.

Interior renderings of Hoot's Righteous Wings 
The new, edgier branding, which more clearly creates a separate brand, could help the eatery both attract patrons and also more easily get prime space in shopping centers where landlords might be reluctant to put a Hooters or something so closely tied to it.

Feedback on for the original Hoots has been mixed, with 51 reviews and an overall rating of three stars as of the February 2019 report, and only two additional reviews since then, still with an overall three star rating. 

Gregg Brickman, Director of Product Development at Hooters of America, is serving as Executive Chef at Hoot’s Righteous Wings.  Brickman is working to create a differentiated menu at Hoots.  “I’m excited to put an elevated twist on homestyle comfort food, like the bacon-wrapped wings, spicy braised greens, and baked jalapeno bacon mac and cheese,” Brickman says on the restaurant’s website.

Brickman has been with Hooters since 2012, but before that spent time with Fuddruckers, Romano's Macaroni Grill and Wolfgang Puck Catering, where he was responsible for several food service operations including at the Georgia Aquarium.

The Hoot's in North Decatur Station will open in a roughly 1,500 square foot space next to Tin Drum Asian Kitchen.  The space was previously announced to have been leased to Oshi Poke Bowl & Sushi, but the Asian eatery will not be opening.  The Decatur space is similar in size to the Madison Yards and Peachtree Corners locations, all rather small, since the restaurant derives such a significant portion of its sales from takeout and delivery.

Real estate sources tell ToNeTo Atlanta that all three Atlanta locations were signed as corporate locations, but could be reassigned/franchised in the future.

Hoots in Cicero 
The Chicago area location is owned by a franchisee and is 2,700 square feet, a size the restaurant company has now determined is larger than necessary for their concept.

There are reportedly two other Hoot's slated to open as soon as this month in Chicago.  One, in Logan Square, at Diversey Avenue and Pulaski Road, will be 1,900 square feet, while another at South Loop will be 1,300 square feet.  Future Hoots will, as in Decatur, be about 1,500 square feet with seating for 35 to 40, compared to 89 at the Cicero Hoots and about 200 to 300 at typical full-service Hooters.

ToNeTo Atlanta contacted ICR Inc., Hooters' press contact.  Although we were promised comment for this story and clarification of the name, we never received any information.  

Do you think the idea of a mini Hooters minus the boobs and babes will resonate with an intown market?  Do you think Hoot's Righteous Wings will find success in Atlanta?  What is your favorite wings spot?

Please share your thoughts below. 


Anonymous said...

I don't get it. Hooters food is not good. So in removing the only draw of the restaurant, how is this place going to be successful?

Anonymous said...

I wondered why the name had suddenly changed from Hoot's to Righteous Wings (with Hoot's in tiny letters). I thought maybe they were trying to hide the Hooters association, and given the website not mentioning the corporate parent, it looks like they are. Nice catch Eli.

Anonymous said...

Has The Righteous Room called their lawyers yet ?

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