Why Hooters will have a hard time in Bangkok

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Hooters foodHooters, the US theme restaurant known for its orange-hot-pant big-breast waitresses opened last month in Bangkok, its first foray into what people consider to be Asia’s sin city.

While this is not the most exciting news these days, we still believe that Hooters’ decision to expand in Thailand is courageous and wanted to know more.

Interestingly, Hooters – which likes to characterise itself as a family-friendly restaurant though it heavily sexualises the intake of burgers and steaks, for example through waitresses shaking their butt every hour for five minutes to rock music (it’s part of her employment contract) – seeks to establish more restaurants at the most naughty places in Thailand one can think of (at least for tourists), namely in lower Sukhumvit area, Pattaya and Koh Samui.

Well, we thought: Let’s check it out. How the hell can the concept of sterile-eye-candy-combined-with-high-calorie-junk-food work in a city that is breathing passion from every crack in the wall and has rightly earned the title of the culinarily most advanced nation in Asia?

The answer is: It highly likely won’t work.

We sent one of our Thai restaurant testers there, accompanied by her foreign boyfriend just to make things look proper.

The reports we got afterwards were devastating.

First of all, there is a complete culture clash between prices for dishes being at Hooters’ US level and Thai-style ignorant service, we heard.

The menu prices steaks and burgers between 600 and 1,000+ baht ($16 and $27), which is at the highest level of what even upscale restaurants dare to charge in this part of town, hotel restaurants exempt. This might work in New York or downtown Los Angeles, but not here.

Service is particularly bad at the place, we were told. People not being served by over-challenged personnel and orders not being executed is, as we wrote in an earlier blog, certainly rather the norm than exemption in Thai restaurants.

But it should not be that way in an international restaurant chain that charges 5-star-prices, especially shortly after launching its largest international expansion phase in many years throughout Southeast Asia. And especially not when 10 per cent service charge plus 7 per cent VAT are added on top of that and staff still expects a tip.

“The place is so badly managed. There is one girl that is really busy and keen to keep guests entertained, but most others are completely ignorant. Other waitresses who don’t wear Hooters’ dresses are around but you don’t really know for what because they don’t react,” we heard.

“I ordered another drink because the food was so dry and tasteless [for a Thai palate, we assume], but it never came. I had to walk around and find staff that would actually execute the order. The same happened when it was time to pay the bill. No one really cared and I had to make my way personally to the cashier to churn out some 3,000 baht completely wasted on a less than mediocre experience.”

“The biggest annoyance was that the bill contained 10 per cent service charge. That really ticked me off.”

We couldn’t believe it’s that lousy. Probably they just had a bad day. And checked reviews on Facebook. Gosh, how people are ranting and railing against the place!

Guests were a mixed folk of redneck tourists, bored Indian IT engineers, a group of Korean business people and a couple of musclemen from the nearby gym, the report continued. One guy accidentally hadn’t enough money to pay his bill and informed staff that he will just go a few meters across the street to reload cash from the ATM there. They literally held him back at his shirttail and demanded half the bill amount as bail.

How can you build up a good atmosphere acting like that?

“The other day a Japanese guest sat down and ordered a drink. The next time I looked he was gone,” the manager complained.

Yes, no restaurant wants bill-dodgers. But probably this particular guest was quickly fed up from an atmosphere that some are describing to be as enticing as a buck-toothed vagina?

And the food sucks, our tester repeated, making off for a well-deserved portion of pad thai at the nearby street corner.

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

Hooters, the US theme restaurant known for its orange-hot-pant big-breast waitresses opened last month in Bangkok, its first foray into what people consider to be Asia’s sin city.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Hooters foodHooters, the US theme restaurant known for its orange-hot-pant big-breast waitresses opened last month in Bangkok, its first foray into what people consider to be Asia’s sin city.

While this is not the most exciting news these days, we still believe that Hooters’ decision to expand in Thailand is courageous and wanted to know more.

Interestingly, Hooters – which likes to characterise itself as a family-friendly restaurant though it heavily sexualises the intake of burgers and steaks, for example through waitresses shaking their butt every hour for five minutes to rock music (it’s part of her employment contract) – seeks to establish more restaurants at the most naughty places in Thailand one can think of (at least for tourists), namely in lower Sukhumvit area, Pattaya and Koh Samui.

Well, we thought: Let’s check it out. How the hell can the concept of sterile-eye-candy-combined-with-high-calorie-junk-food work in a city that is breathing passion from every crack in the wall and has rightly earned the title of the culinarily most advanced nation in Asia?

The answer is: It highly likely won’t work.

We sent one of our Thai restaurant testers there, accompanied by her foreign boyfriend just to make things look proper.

The reports we got afterwards were devastating.

First of all, there is a complete culture clash between prices for dishes being at Hooters’ US level and Thai-style ignorant service, we heard.

The menu prices steaks and burgers between 600 and 1,000+ baht ($16 and $27), which is at the highest level of what even upscale restaurants dare to charge in this part of town, hotel restaurants exempt. This might work in New York or downtown Los Angeles, but not here.

Service is particularly bad at the place, we were told. People not being served by over-challenged personnel and orders not being executed is, as we wrote in an earlier blog, certainly rather the norm than exemption in Thai restaurants.

But it should not be that way in an international restaurant chain that charges 5-star-prices, especially shortly after launching its largest international expansion phase in many years throughout Southeast Asia. And especially not when 10 per cent service charge plus 7 per cent VAT are added on top of that and staff still expects a tip.

“The place is so badly managed. There is one girl that is really busy and keen to keep guests entertained, but most others are completely ignorant. Other waitresses who don’t wear Hooters’ dresses are around but you don’t really know for what because they don’t react,” we heard.

“I ordered another drink because the food was so dry and tasteless [for a Thai palate, we assume], but it never came. I had to walk around and find staff that would actually execute the order. The same happened when it was time to pay the bill. No one really cared and I had to make my way personally to the cashier to churn out some 3,000 baht completely wasted on a less than mediocre experience.”

“The biggest annoyance was that the bill contained 10 per cent service charge. That really ticked me off.”

We couldn’t believe it’s that lousy. Probably they just had a bad day. And checked reviews on Facebook. Gosh, how people are ranting and railing against the place!

Guests were a mixed folk of redneck tourists, bored Indian IT engineers, a group of Korean business people and a couple of musclemen from the nearby gym, the report continued. One guy accidentally hadn’t enough money to pay his bill and informed staff that he will just go a few meters across the street to reload cash from the ATM there. They literally held him back at his shirttail and demanded half the bill amount as bail.

How can you build up a good atmosphere acting like that?

“The other day a Japanese guest sat down and ordered a drink. The next time I looked he was gone,” the manager complained.

Yes, no restaurant wants bill-dodgers. But probably this particular guest was quickly fed up from an atmosphere that some are describing to be as enticing as a buck-toothed vagina?

And the food sucks, our tester repeated, making off for a well-deserved portion of pad thai at the nearby street corner.

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