Hooters China, The Inedible & The Ugly

April 10, 2011 § 4 Comments

Alright so… let’s put things straight before I even start: YES I’m French but I enjoy American food and entertainment culture, a lot! I’m not one bashing the bold, tacky, fat food concepts. Sometimes there’s just nothing better than four cheese burger add bacon,liter of cold beer, basketball game and the slutty waitress’s smile. Man’s simple nature, me is a man. I also know Hooters well, the original but some of its Asian versions too. I had been to Shanghai Hooters twice when it opened few years ago, it was alright. Off we go, Hongqiao Parkson’s Hooters ahead!

I’m usually not too interested in discussing women breasts sizes, belly fat, ass flatness on this blog. What I am interested in however is discussing success or failure of food/drinks brands and concepts.

Hooters is the privately held American restaurant chains. Hooters name is taken from an American slang term for female breasts, and its logo, an owl, is well known for its “hooting” calls. Now, let’s compare Hooters brand description from Wikipedia and the sad reality of Hooters China:

Wiki tips:

– Hooters is a restaurant with a waitstaff made up of attractive waitresses
– Sex Appeal of the waitress is a primary part of the company’s image
– Menu includes, and is famous for delicious tex-mex food (nachos, quesadillas, chicken wings…)

Reality:

– Hooters China is a restaurant with a waitstaff made up of scary waitresses that clearly couldn’t made it to work at the nearest KTV. Sex Appeal of the waitress is a secondary part of Hooters China image after vulgarity. Hooters USA have a Hooters Employee Handbook, published in The Smoking Gun reads and that notes that: “Customers can go to many places for wings and beer, but it is our Hooters Girls who make our concept unique…” They definitely are unique at your Hooters China for they might make customers feel an extreme discomfort I personally only  felt in some remote KTVs and at a club party few years ago, curiously hypnotized by some midgets in Michael Jackson red PVC outfits dancing on the bar top.

– Menu includes the saddest tex-mex food one can possibly imagine, in ridiculously small portions, highly priced and aggravated with a service charge (that will benefit to the above waitstaff). We entertained ourselves counting the number of tortillas in the big nachos plate: 21 and took a picture of the dish so you can play “Where’s Wally”, trying to find where are the guacamole and the minced beef hiding. The pizza felt like an old over-chewed tasteless chewing gum and clearly was the worst thick crust I’ve ever had, the vegetables cut looked like the poorest dish ever and had to cover carrot and celery sticks with an avalanche of the blandest fattest sauce to taste something.

We sadly moved closer to the TV set and watched NBA best dunks drudging to finish our 2/3 ice 1/3 alcohol margaritas.

So really, what’s my point? There’s absolutely nothing personal. But I’m raising the question of branding, marketing and international consistency of a global food brand. How can a brand allow such remoteness and failure from the very original marketing concept that founded its success? It is not the first time that an imported concept is being denatured in China and becomes its own parody. Other succeed in reproducing original recipes and sometimes even bring it to another level, adapting it to the specific targeted market.

Shanghai first Hooters opened in 2004 and to this day there are only two outlets for a city of over 10 millions inhabitant, clearly revealing a serious disfunction of the local operation and marketing. Does anyone care?!

In Shanghai you will find plenty of options for good american, tex-mex food: Malone’s, Big Bamboo, Blue Frog, Cantina Agave are just a few, and plenty of restaurants with much more attractive and enthusiastic staff.

Don’t go to Hooters until they hire me, instead go to:

MALONE’S
255 Tongren Lu, near Nanjing Xi Lu
铜仁路255号, 近南京西路
6247 2400

BLUE FROG
www.bluefrog.com.cn

CANTINA AGAVE
www.cantinaagave.com

Below:

– Cantina Agave’s amazing nachos. Yes the shot is from a professional but quite close to what it is in reality.
– Inedible nachos at Hooters Shanghai (hopefully coming in very few portion so you don’t feel committed to eat too many of them) as they were served last night.
– What Hooters is in the US (and should be anywhere else) for the sake of branding.
– What Hooters is in China/Asia.

中国Hooters餐厅,难以下咽的食物和恶劣环境

好吧。。。让我们开门见山:我的确是个法国人但我非常喜欢美国的食物和它的娱乐文化!我并不是要排斥那些粗糙的高脂肪的快餐文化。但有时,没有什么要比享用加了培根的芝士汉堡,一升冰啤,一场篮球比赛和女服务员勾人的微笑来的更加美好。这是男人的天性,而我就是一名男士。我很了解Hooters餐厅,了解他们家最初始的面貌,同时也了解一些开在亚洲的分店。上海的Hooters分店在几年前开张,我去过2次,还不错。现在,就让我们前去开在虹桥百盛的Hooters餐厅。

我不会在博客里讨论女性的胸围,腹部脂肪或臀围等,我相对乐意讨论餐饮品牌和理念的成功与失败。

Hooters是来自美国的私人餐饮连锁,名字取自美国女性胸部的俚语。因猫头鹰打破沉寂的叫声而选此为公司的商标。好了,让我们将维基百科的Hooters品牌描述与在中国Hooters遗憾的实际情况作下比较吧:

维基提示:

Hooters餐厅的服务员都为迷人的女服务员

女服务员的性感迷人是公司理念的重要组成部分
菜单包括闻名遐迩的德州式墨西哥料理(粟米脆饼,鸡肉饼和鸡翅等)

事实:

中国Hooters餐厅的服务员相貌丑陋,甚至都无法在附近的KTV找到工作。在这些粗俗之后,性感迷人的女服务员反倒成为了中国Hooters餐厅的次要部分。美国Hooters餐厅有一本Hooters员工手册,有在The Smoking Gun杂志上刊登过,其中写有:“顾客可在许多地方享用到鸡翅和啤酒,但我们的Hooters女孩们将这一切都变的特殊起来。”而的确,她们使中国Hooters餐厅变得特殊起来,但则是因为她们让顾客感到非常不舒服,就像我几年前在某些KTV和夜店派对上的感觉类似。很奇怪地沉迷于摇滚中,在吧台上有穿着像迈克尔杰克逊那样的红色PVC演出服的人跳舞。

而菜单则有着你也许能想象出的最难吃的德州式墨西哥料理,量少的可笑,但价格又高还要附加服务费(即给上述服务员的小费)。我们自娱自乐,数着放在用来装粟米脆饼的大盘子里究竟有几块玉米脆饼:21块!我们拍了张照片,你们可以弹起“聪明的沃利(Where’s Wally)”,试着找下哪里有鳄梨酱和切碎的零星牛肉钉。匹萨的口感如同咀嚼了很多次的口香糖,厚皮绝对是我吃过的最差的。蔬菜的切工也很烂,必须在上面盖上胡萝卜和芹菜杆,浇上很多油腻淳厚的浆料才能食用。

我们很遗憾地去看电视了,观看NBA最佳扣篮大赛,喝完我们的2/3冰与1/3酒精所调的玛格丽特。

所以,我的观点是什么呢?当然并不仅仅是我个人的观点,我只是想向这样一个全球食品品牌提出一个品牌市场和国际一致性的问题。一个依靠最初市场概念而成功的品牌,怎么可以允许发生这样的相差和失败?引进国际品牌但在中国的发展完全变质之类的事件已经发生不止一次了,而这是品牌自身的拙劣模仿。有些品牌在复制初始概念方面做的非常成功,力求适应特定目标市场,将品牌提到了更高的档次。

上海的第一家Hooters餐厅于2004年开幕,而至今对于在这个常住居民超过1000万的城市,却仅有2家分店。这明确表明了公司在地方运作和市场方面的严重问题,而又有谁在关注呢?!

在上海,你可以找到许多不错的美国和德州式墨西哥料理的餐厅,例如:Malone’s, Big Bamboo, Blue Frog, Cantina Agave等,并且许多餐厅都有着迷人和热情的员工。

除非Hooters雇佣我,否则我不会再去,我会选择这些餐厅

上示的照片:

- Cantina Agave的粟米脆饼很棒。这张近照拍摄地很专业吧,这和实物是一样的。
- 昨晚上海Hooters餐厅难以下咽的粟米脆饼(幸亏量不多,否则还要吃下很多)
- 这是个全球品牌,美国的Hooters餐厅(全球都应该是一样的)
- 中国和亚洲的Hooters餐厅

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§ 4 Responses to Hooters China, The Inedible & The Ugly

  • yu888 says:

    I am certain this has a lot to do with the Chinese ownership of the franchise rights in China. Tacky at best was what it had evolved into prior to my leaving China. Sad to hear the conditions have gotten even worse.

    • Hi Yu and thanks for your comment!

      Having spent so many years in the business here I know how hard it is to find good staff – and with even no requirement of being handsome or pretty-. I totally understand their struggle in a country where a beautiful girl doesn’t always feel she needs to go to Univ but would embrace a career of gold digging. Let’s say Hooters pays them 500USD – and I’m being pretty conservative-, why would they work in a bar, learn the little dance, wear the ridiculous outfit? And there’s face thing. Having a sugar daddy, getting money from a “boyfriend” is not too much a problem -after all, isn’t it what most of the Chinese parents wish for? To see their daughter, regardless of her feeling for the man, to earn comfort and financial elevation? And for those working in a KTV, their family knows nothing about it and they can always invoke the generous bf when sending thousands of Yuan a month back to their village – But working in a bar… that is a disgrace. Great China paradox…

      So it is definitely a very complex social issue that won’t be solved right here. What could be better handled however is the brand’s control and awareness. Having only 2 outlets in Shanghai shouldn’t make it too difficult to find 20 OK girls (say 2 daily shifts of 5 girls each per outlet). In my past life in the nightlife industry we would use the very same and extremely efficient PR strategy, hiring good looking PRs but as you said I don’t think Hooters local owners have been trying to hard on it, hence, are losing the whole point of a proven well built concept. And Hooters US might have no say on that while the negative impact on their own brand is tremendous. If Shanghai venues are meant to be their flagship then no wonder they should never expand in this part of the world. I’m convinced that Chinese people dig american and tex-mex food, and they love girls as much as any other nations -if not more-, and I regret that such a great marketing machine should be wasted.

  • Maybe you may want to get a facebook icon to your blog. Just bookmarked this url, but I had to make this by hand. Just my 2 cents.

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