From the Source: Wings rule as Hooters launches its new-generation fast-casual restaurant, hoots™ in suburban Chicago
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Hooters® has gained a new sibling with the February 15 launch of hoots™ a HOOTERS® Joint at 2201-D S. Cicero Avenue in Cicero, Illinois, a southwest suburb of Chicago (telephone: 708-652-3859). Hoots offers more than typical fast-casual restaurants but is not as full service as Hooters locations. Hoots will not replace the Hooters concept which continues to be as popular and fast-growing as ever.
Hooters has been considering a move into the fast-casual category for some time. “Fast casual is the fastest growing segment in the restaurant business and we believe this will continue, as fast casual is a perfect fit for today’s fast-paced lifestyle,” said Neil Kiefer, President and CEO of Hooters Management Corporation (HMC). HMC is the group that founded Hooters in 1983 and operates Hooters restaurants around the world. The new Hoots store is owned by Hoots of Cicero, Inc.
“We knew that we had a market for this type of restaurant, because we do a huge takeout business at Hooters—it represents 20 to 25 percent of our business—and we felt that the fast-casual approach would appeal to many of our guests,” said Kiefer.
Data from restaurant research firm Technomic Inc., indicates the fast-casual sector grew at a rate of 12.4 percent from 2010 to 2015, outpacing the 2.9 percent rate for casual dining. Kiefer pointed out that casual dining, as represented by Hooters, continues to make up a larger portion of the restaurant industry.
“We are very supportive of this initiative,” said Hooters Inc. President and CEO Terry Marks. “It is a logical extension of the brand and will provide more people with more opportunities to enjoy our world-famous wings. We have a lot to learn, but we are excited about the potential.”
Hoots represents an evolution of fast-casual dining
“Hoots represents an evolution of fast-casual dining,” said Sal Melilli, Chief Operating Officer of Hooters Management Corporation. More than a scaled-down version of Hooters, Hoots has its own personality, emphasizing great affordable food that is served quickly and in a high-energy and comfortable atmosphere, making it perfect for families on the go.
Hoots is making good food available to everyone, from those who have time to sit down and relaxed to those who are time-starved. “To meet the different needs of our guests, we’ve added some full-service dining features so that our guests can choose which type of service fits their mood on any given visit,” said Melilli.
Most Hoots customers place their order at the front counter and the food is brought to their table when ready. But those who opt for Hoots’ full-service option, which is offered in the separate bar area serving beer, sangria and mixed drinks, servers take the orders and bring the food and beverages to the table. “We understand that some guests visiting a fast-casual restaurant aren’t necessarily in a hurry. They would like to relax, enjoy their food, and perhaps have a beer and watch sports on television,” said Melilli, “so Hoots gives them that option. We believe our guests will be pleased.”
Hoots also anticipates that a significant amount of business will take the form of take-out and catering and their unique packaging reinforces their brand and commitment to quality.
Nearly World Famous Chicken Wings rule the roost
Rather than presenting completely new dishes, the Hoots menu hits the ground running. It is comprised of the most popular items from the Hooters restaurants, where the chicken wings rule. Everything is prepared in-house, just as in the Hooters restaurants.
Headlining the menu are Hooters’ Nearly World Famous Wings, available with a wide range of sauces and rubs. The menu also includes a variety of sandwiches and salads, starters and sides. The most unusual item on the menu for a fast-casual restaurant are the crab legs, which also are among the top sellers at Hooters.
Starters include Fried Pickles, Mozzarella Sticks, Onion rings, Classic Wings and Lotsa Tots.
The Original Wings, Boneless Wings and Buffalo Shrimp come in multiple sizes to accommodate individual diners or groups. Sandwich selections are the Buffalo Chicken Sandwich and the Grilled Chicken Sandwich. The Garden Salad is available with Buffalo Chicken or Grilled Chicken. A unique main dish for fast-casual dining is the Snow Crab Legs, one pound’s worth served with a side of warm butter.
To add some heat and flavor profiles to the main dishes, Hoots offers a choice of seven sauces and one seasoning rub.
Guests can create a combo meal out of the main dishes by simply ordering the Make it a Meal option, which includes a half order of fries or tots and a drink.
Guests can order online at eathoots.com.
About hoots™ a Hooters Joint
Hoots™ a Hooters Joint, launched in February 2017, is a fast-casual restaurant operated by Hooters Management Corporation and owned by Hoots of Cicero Inc. The restaurant features the most popular items from the Hooters full-service menu, prepared and served in a smaller, fast-casual style. In addition to the general seating area there is a full-service bar area serving signature drinks and draft and bottled beer.
The first store is at located at 2201-D S. Cicero Avenue, Cicero, IL 60804. Hoots is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. There is a convenient free parking lot and special parking spots for takeout diners. Visa, MasterCard and American Express cards are accepted. Visit the restaurant and order online at eathoots.com. Follow Hoots at facebook.com/eathoots.