825 7th Street N.W., a block away from the Chinatown Metro station
Hooters is not a restaurant that I would ever imagine myself spending a Thursday night at. In fact, I counted, and there were probably a dozen or fewer women dining in the restaurant, and this includes my friends and I. This is a stark contrast to the restaurant’s staff, which is comprised of all women, save the managerial and kitchen staff. The walls are paneled in wood, giving the place a cabin-like feel, and there are more than a dozen televisions, all tuned to ESPN or the Spike network. Bright Christmas lights adorn the walls and, combined with the regular lighting, reflect nicely off the bright orange running shorts that all the waitresses wear.
Speaking of waitresses and their uniforms, I was surprised to see women of all sizes working for the establishment. Suddenly, I felt much more confident sitting at a table with two of my friends, for I, too, could be a Hooters girl.
Our waitress, Starr Goode, came by to take our drink orders and was more than helpful in my quest to discover the secrets of Hooters.
“I love working (here),” said Goode, who has lived in D.C. her entire life. “We have awesome people who come in … (but) every now and then we have people who come in that don’t know how to function and operate.”
And it just so happened that some of these very men were sitting at the table next to us, grabbing their waitress by the hand and proposing marriage. I have to say, I was surprised to realize that the women working here are both nice to other women and not the bimbos you would assume they are.
I started out with a soda, wanting to remain sober for this experience. However, Hooters, which refers to itself as a family restaurant, claims to attempt to cater to women customers by offering “girlier” drinks and beer selections such as Corona, Smirnoff Ice. For the record, there were a few families in the restaurant, but the clientele mainly consisted of businessmen and groups of guys enjoying beer and a relaxed dinner. Most people had a few pitchers on their tables.
When dining at Hooters, most people start off with the famous Hooters chicken wings, the restaurant’s version of Buffalo wings. They can be prepared mild, medium or hot, all the way up to 911 style. For a table of three, definitely start out with the 20-piece platter, which costs $11.79. For the true “chicken wing connoisseur,” Hooters offers the Gourmet Chicken Wing Dinner – 20 pieces and a bottle of Dom Perignon for a mere $149.99.
If chicken wings just aren’t your thing, try the quesadillas for an appetizer. You can order chicken, steak or cheese, and they make for a light and tasty precursor to a pretty heavy meal.
Hooters offers a variety of sandwiches, seafood and rib platters and salads to choose from. Their Philly cheesesteak is a safe and affordable choice. It comes to you served on an open-face roll with mounds of steak, onions and mushrooms covered in heaps of melted provolone. And don’t forget to get a side of curly fries – they are extra salty and extra curly to make for a mighty tasty French fry. Other great choices include the Buffalo chicken sandwich, a variation on their famous chicken wings, and the Cuban sandwich.
But we all know that most people don’t come here for the food. Mikal Valenzuela, general manager of the D.C. Hooters, outlined the allure of the restaurant.
“It’s a concept based on female sex appeal,” he said, explaining that the women who work at the establishment are typically outgoing and unafraid to converse with the customers. “We have all shapes and sizes here – we’re not going for the busty women.”
I took this opportunity to inquire about my own potential as a Hooter’s girl and asked what my chances were.
“The chances are very good,” he said. “You seem like a fun girl.”
However, he said, I would have to lose the nose ring that I have since it does not fit into the “sexy but wholesome” image that Hooters girls are supposed to convey to customers. I suppose that I will just have to let go of that pipe dream.
I asked him if he was dating anyone, and if so, how did she feel about his position at Hooters. He simply mentioned that she didn’t mind.
Valenzuela also explained that the main demographic of customers consists of males between the ages of 17 and 55. A lot of fraternities hold rush parties here and it is also a popular place for birthdays. In fact, at the table next to mine, one such party was going on. A 20-year-old male was celebrating his birthday there and, as tradition goes at Hooters, he was made to stand up on his chair, bang two pot lids together and dance while the waitresses sang “Happy Birthday.”
Ladies, while Hooters is definitely not a place to go to with your boyfriend, it is possible to have a uniquely fun evening there with a group of girls. And, hey, why not bring one guy friend as the token male? The waitresses are nice and welcome a change of clientele, and you will soon discover that many Hooters girls are just like you and me – except they wear skimpier clothing and make a whole lot more in tips.