Beautiful, talkative girls wearing tiny shorts and tank tops while waiting tables, a laid-back atmosphere with junk food and plenty of alcoholic beverages available are a few of the things one can expect for sure in any Hooters worldwide. This American restaurant chain plays up sex-appeal, a casual sports-bar like atmosphere and lots of interaction between the waiting staff and customers to make a successful business. Although Japan has plenty of hostess bars, bars where customers buy drinks for themselves and the attractive “hostesses” working there while engaging in conversation, the concept of an ordinary restaurant offering similar service was non-existent. So, what is Hooters Japan like?
First of all, Hooters Japan opened merely two years ago in the fancy district of Ginza. A second branch in Akasaka followed last year. So, I dare to say it is still in a trial phase. Its menu is pretty much standard for an American chain restaurant: plenty of sandwiches, chicken wings, Tex-Mex food, free refill beverages, lots of cocktails and of course, everything comes in big sizes. However, rice sides are included for almost every meal set, as opposed to fries in their US stores and other locations.
But, just as I said before, Hooters best selling point is their girls! Hooter girls not only have to look good, feminine and flirtatious, they also have to make sure you have a good time talking to them, so as soon as they come to get your order, they’ll be asking you all kind of questions. Needless to say, this is quite shocking under the Japanese service industry standards. Both my friend and I were surprised when the waitress asked us if we were students, if we had been in Japan for a long time, if it was our first time in Hooters and more since waitresses usually stick to a common series of polite words. But it doesn’t stop there, exactly at 5 pm, they started to play some loud, catchy tunes and all the girls danced a silly, but really fun choreography. Entertainment is assured here!
As for customers, most of them were naturally men in pairs or by themselves, but some women-only groups were also there. As an interesting note, there were even two middle aged ladies having lunch there and they were complementing the staff. I’m not sure if you get to see middle aged women in other locations, but you know how diverse Japanese customers and audiences can be. It wasn’t crowded at all when I got there (about 2:30 pm), but the place was getting busy when by the time we were leaving (5 pm). I suppose they’re the busiest during after-office hours.
Their lunch menu was fairly priced for an American style restaurant, with sets ranging from 1000 yen to 1500 yen, big serving of rice available for free. The 1000 yen sets change every week. It was “week C” when I went there so my options were Orange pork, Tandoori Chicken or Fried fish burger. I chose the Orange Pork set. It was actually very delicious.
I highly recommend going there for an unusual non-Japanese experience if you live in Japan. However, if you are just visiting here maybe it’s better to skip this and do something more essentially Japanese. Not that there’s something wrong about Hooters, but Izakayas, for instance, might be more interesting for short-term visitors.
Thanks to my friend John for the pics!