By the end of this year Hooters Budapest expects to open its doors in the middle of Franz Liszt Square, where construction is underway on a 7800 square foot unit spead over three levels.
Alex Hemingway, CEO of Crown Restaurants and boss of the brand in Hungary and other parts of Europe, stated, “We are extremely excited about the opportunity to begin our European development strategy with Budapest, Hungary.Our new restaurant in the heart of Budapest couldn’t be more centrally located or better known. We look forward to serving Hungarians our great food and having them experience the Hooters environment.” Hooters Budapest will be the first Hooters restaurant open in Hungary, with restaurant doors expected to open by the end of this year.
Mr. Hemingway continues, “Hungary is an attractive growth market I know extremely well. Central Europe has very attractive operating economics due to low real estate and labor costs and minimal presence from competing casual restaurant brands”. Alex gave XpatLoop a few news scoops, “The Budapest restaurant will have European sports, and American sports as well – including football, baseball and basketball. We will be showing Live Games of American sports, and will be the only ones in Hungary to do so”.
“This unit will represent an entirely new design for the Hooters brand in Europe. We are presently reviewing other European markets to expand into”, he also revealed.
Hooters: ‘Sex Appeal Is Legal & It Sells’
Hooters holds an annual ‘International Swimsuit Pageant’, the video above shows all of the 100 contestants in 2011. The U.S. company dismisses claims about Hooters exploiting attractive women as “ridiculous”, and states it’s “not a typical family restaurant”.The chain does offer a children’s menu, although the company acknowledges the element of female sex appeal is prevalent in Hooters, it declares the Hooters Girl is as socially acceptable as a cheerleader; swimsuit model; or Radio City Rockette.
The ‘nearly world famous’ Hooters Girls are the cornerstone of brand the company says, the Hooters Girl uniform policy states that, “pantyhose and bras are required”. Hooters restaurant uses an owl theme sufficiently to create debate about its name’s meaning, benefiting from such a discussion – the firm acknowledges that many consider ‘hooters’ to be an informal term for women’s breasts.
The American company states that Hooters Girls have the same right to use their female charms to earn a living as do super models Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell. 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 a Hooters Girl.
30 Year Old Hooters Growing In Hungary
The first Hooters appeared nearly 3 decades ago in Florida, over the years the company has established a $2+ million ‘Breast Cancer Research Grant’, and today Hooters is present in around 30 countries (pictured: Hooters in Tokyo).
During its history, the Hooters concept has undergone little change. The current logo, uniform, menu and ambiance are all very similar to what existed in the original store.
Chanticleer Holdings, a business operator focused on expanding the Hooters ‘casual dining’ restaurant brand in international markets, just recently announced that it has secured exclusive franchise rights to operate Hooters here.Mr. Hemingway and co. are evaluating key locations for the first restaurant, which aims to be open in Hungary by the end of the 3rd quarter 2012. Under the franchise agreement, Chanticleer will own 80% and a management group led by Mr. Hemingway will own the remaining 20% of Chanticleer’s business in Hungary.
Experienced Expat Handling Hungarian Hooters
Alex Hemingway, an American, has over 14 years of international restaurant management and real-estate development experience – including six years as the Chief Executive and President of a franchise group for Pizza Hut and Kentucky Fried Chicken in Hungary.
Now focused on Hooters he says, “Hungary will be a key starting point as we focus on establishing a presence in other emerging European markets and position the company for profitable growth.”
Alex concludes, “We believe Central Europe in general and Hungary in particular provides a unique opportunity for Hooters to thrive. We have massive interest across the board from potential Hooters girls, to landlords, supplier and press. Frankly, its unbelievable.“
More About Alex Hemingway
* Mr. Hemingway holds a BA from Pepperdine University’s Seaver College. He is fluent in English and Hungarian, and also speaks some Spanish.
* He has lived in six countries, and he and his Hungarian wife Andrea have three children. His interests include European football, basketball, hiking, history, travel, wine, and reading.
* Currently he is standing for election to the board of the American International School of Budapest – voting is open until 20 April 2012. He is already a Board Member of Budapest Honved FC.
Earlier in his career he spent two years in Beijing and Hong Kong working for HFG LLC. Now as CEO of Crown Restaurants he will oversee the operations and development of the Hooters restaurant franchise in Hungary.
While CEO/President of Central European Franchise Group (the owner and operator of Pizza Hut and KFC in Hungary), his leadership led to multiple-year double-digit sales growth for both brands, as well as the highest customer feedback scores in the region.
His online biography says that for his breakthrough efforts in the area of service he was awarded the first YUM! European Customer Mania Award in 2001, for the building and successful implementation of a comprehensive operational customer response program. Alex also managed and served as the Director of Orient Rt., Central Europe’s largest independent restaurant company with over 130 operating units based in Budapest.
Sources: Marketwire, Hooters