The real reasons why Hooters locations are disappearing

This year celebrates the 40th anniversary of the restaurant known for its copious amounts of chicken wings and beer. Founded in October 1983, Hooters has become something of an American icon in its four decades of existence. While you might think of Hooters today as a near ubiquitous chain with locations in every major city in America, Hooters is in fact a declining entity with locations steadily disappearing.

From a peak of about 430 units less than a decade ago, the chain has been steadily shrinking lately. According to the data company Smart Scrapers, there were 311 Hooters restaurants in America in the fall of 2022, but according to ScrapeHero data, that number had dropped further to just 308 Hooters restaurants in America by early 2023. (Hooters also has a decent overseas presence, with locations in Europe, Asia, Central America, and Africa, but many of these remote units have also closed.)

Why is this famous “breastaurant” seeing so many locations close for good? The reasons are many and some of them are multi-layered, so let’s take a step-by-step look at the problem.

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The chain is going virtual

hooters online

The chicken wing competition has gotten hot and spicy in recent years, with restaurants and fast food chains like Wingstop and Buffalo Wild Wings forcing Hooters to struggle a bit to keep up. Beyond the chain’s popular competitors, the aftermath/continuation of pandemic behaviors such as increased takeout and ordering through delivery app services have continued to be a large factor in Hooters restaurant profits and revenue.

Hoping to close the foot traffic and dining customer gaps, Hooters added 196 virtual locations to drive more sales, according to the PYMNTS data site. With the help of aggregators such as DoorDash, Uber Eats, and Grubhub, the restaurant is making out-of-store growth its number one priority and likely causing more brick-and-mortar restaurant locations to close as they are no longer necessary to the company’s success. ahead.

Eat this, not that

Eat this, not that

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Hooter’s biggest competitor may be taking over the spotlight

Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks

Hooters may be universally known to most Americans, but it’s not the only brisket restaurant in the game that people love. In fact, one restaurant chain in particular has established itself with a very similar vibe and the teeny little server outfits that Hooters girls are most remembered for — it’s called Twin Peaks. In 2022, Twin Peaks reported that in-store sales were up 13%, generating more than $400 million in revenue in 2021. As Hooters locations become increasingly scarce, Twin Peaks is planning a major expansion of 20 new restaurant locations to bring the chain from 130 to 150 total in the U.S.

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The pandemic was detrimental to Hooters

horn girls

horn girls

Thousands of restaurants across America closed their doors for good during the pandemic. In fact, according to the New York State Restaurant Association, one in six American eateries is closing. This included one-off restaurants, entire chains like Souplantation (called Sweet Tomatoes in some places), and multiple locations of other chains. Hooters lost millions of dollars in business during the first few months of lockdowns, and many locations would never reopen. This included Hooters restaurants in many major markets, such as California’s Bay Area, Per The Mercury Newsand Phoenix, Arizona, where one location closed after 32 years of operation.


Hooters has already been on a downward slide

The pandemic was the final nail in the coffin for many Hooters locations, but the chain had been dying long before the arrival of SARS-CoV-2. Per Business Insider reporting from 2017, Hooters had failed to capture the interest of millennials who simply weren’t interested in the “breastaurant” concept. In fact, many members of the younger generations who are just now becoming full consumers are quite put off by it.

Despite reports that the chain failed to attract the new generation, Hooters disputed claims it was closing locations to rebrand. In late December 2022, a bogus claim circulated that the chain was doing just that. Hooters responded that the rumor had “no validity” and claimed that the concept is “a keeper”.


Leadership and ownership have changed many times in just a few years



Stability is essential for any organization hoping to thrive – or even survive in the long run. But in the 21st century, Hooters has experienced anything but stability when it comes to owners and C-suite executives. For example, there have been four CEOs since 2003. And according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the chain was purchased in 2011 by a group of private investors. And then it went up for sale again four years later, in 2015, writes Restaurant business online, although a sale was not possible. Hooters was finally sold again in 2019.


The menu has not evolved and adapted

hooters serves food and beer

hooters serves food and beer

People may have argued in the past that they went to Hooters for the food, not to ogle the servers, but according to pureed, this justification hardly holds up anymore because the food at Hooters hasn’t evolved over time. And even as the Hooters menu stagnated, countless other chains have expanded, like Buffalo Wild Wings, for example, offering the same food without the clunkiness. One of the biggest menu additions in the past decade was the chain’s introduction of a boneless wings option for customers shying away from bone-in.

RELATED: 10 Secrets Hooters Doesn’t Want You To Know


Hooters has tried a number of failed ventures



While the company’s less breast-focused spin-off restaurant chain Hoots seems to be doing well, that’s the exception when it comes to Hooters new ventures. For example, between 2003 and 2006, the chain inexplicably owned its own airline, Hooters Air, according to Vox, a failed venture that lost the company about $40 million. And from 2006 to 2019, Hooters owned and operated a casino and in Las Vegas, the Hooters Casino Hotel, a venture that lost money annually and went bankrupt several times prior to the sale, according to the Las Vegas sun.

An earlier version of this article was originally published in November 2022. It has been updated with additional information.

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