Hey, I've always said that good things come in pairs, right?
So I was wrong. I went to the recent grand opening (oy--finally!) of the Valley's third Hooters restaurant. Or is it a sports bar? Or maybe just a place where a man can relax with his buddies, down a brew, scope out the game and be served by a gaggle of fine-looking gals in skimpy outfits. Whatever it is, it's sure the way things ought to be, right?

Damn straight.
Best of all, the new Hooters came to roost on Mill Avenue in the heart of Tempe--right by my house--so when the little woman's bleaching my shorts down at the Laundromat, I'll have someplace to go. And it ain't just me who's looking for something worthwhile to do on that pansy-ass Mill Ave.

Look, they've got an "art" theatre where they show movies that aren't even in English, a cookie store, a frozen yogurt shop, a place that sells lotions (and I'm not the kinda guy who needs any lotions, dig?), plus some furniture store where all the stuff is made out of old slabs of wood and bent pieces of metal. And what if you're hungry? I mean, the food's pretty good at Jack in the Box, but what the hell is a guy supposed to look at? Those pimply dudes behind the counter?

So that's why my hat is off to the forward-thinking members of the Tempe City Council who awarded Hooters a liquor license, and enabled the place to get built. Thank Jesus in heaven they didn't listen to that handful of screechy, uptight feminists who thought good ol' Hooters would somehow demean women. What a load of malarkey! If anything, it lets girls show off what God gave 'em, the way He made 'em for us to see--right, guys?

Damn straight.
Now, don't get me wrong. Some of these sweet little things are thinkers. Plenty of 'em are even in college over at ASU, and you know they don't let in just any broad with blond hair, a good figure and a bright-red '95 Bronco. In fact, "The Hooters Saga" (on the back of every menu) says, "Don't be surprised if you look around and see students hard at work here studying for their bachelor's degree in Hooters 101--the study of Poultry in Motion." One honey I talked to told me she was studying law. I throw myself upon the mercy of the court already!

Of course, if all you want is to hang out with stone cold foxes, there've always been full-on skin joints like Bourbon Street Circus. But they cost too darn much. Not only is it like five bucks for a table dance, but, jeez, it's like the women are in control. Makes a guy nervous. I prefer a place where I tip if and when I want to.

Besides, what's wrong with a little something left to the imagination? I'm certainly sensitive enough to appreciate a classier display of feminine beauty than what's offered at those strip bars.

Which brings me back to my first encounter with Hooters.
It was in the July '86 issue of Playboy; the Playmate of the Month was one Lynn Austin (35/24/35!!), who worked at a Florida Hooters. Not only was she a babe, but there was a picture of her talking to George Brett. He's a really good baseball player, so I figure Lynn musta been cool. I remember checking out her interests penned in her own rounded, sexy cursive--in the Playmate Data Sheet (a virtual Rosetta stone for those of us who care enough to find out what makes a woman tick).

Ambitions: "Every day is a new ambition. Hey, maybe I'll be a pilot . . . or a florist . . . or a star.

Turn-ons: Men's buns, expensive cologne, green eyes . . . light beer and cheese popcorn (together).

Fave TV Shows: 60 Minutes, The Colbys, The Cosby Show.
How about that? Not only did Ms. Austin watch 60 Minutes, she didn't even dot her I's with a heart.

Then last April, I was in the liquor store picking up a six of Pabst when I glanced at the rack of Playboys. Right there on the cover was a bombshell in a Hooters outfit, and next to her it said, "Today's Special! The Girls of Hooters." Sure enough, there were all these pictures of girls inside, and they worked at Hooters. Lordy! I could describe what these girls were wearing, but I'm no Shakespeare. Here's what the pros at Playboy said about the official Hooters costume: "The color orange screams for attention. It's one of the brightest, most intense colors in the spectrum. It's almost combustible. Fire is orange. And orange is the color of the silky, micro gym shorts worn by the Hooters girls. Stare long enough and that orange will burn a hole right through your gray matter. Top off those shorts with a tight, white tee shirt (usually knotted in the back to emphasize the chest and bare midriff), and the results are death by Creamsicle."

The only thing they left out are the brown support hose and white running shoes that the girls wear. You know something, I really think those thick, industrial-strength hose are a smart touch. They make the girls seem so, well, real.

I know what you're saying: Enough buildup--let's go to Hooters!
Damn straight.
That's just what I did last Saturday night. The place is located directly above a new McDonald's, and as you walk up the stairs, you begin to notice indications that Hooters is a great place to party: framed photos of fabulous, smiling celebrities like Wolfman Jack, Tim Allen, Pete Rose, Woody Harrelson, Donald Trump, even George Bush, surrounded by Hooters girls. I don't know who looks like they're having more fun, the guys or the girls!

When I got to the top of the stairs, there was a Hooter hostess standing there, ready to seat me. I was a little disappointed, as she was dressed in white polo shirt and shorts. Okay, I'll admit it--I guess I was expecting death by Creamsicle!

Still, she was real pretty and superfriendly, and led me to a table next to a snapshot of TV's McLean Stevenson looking bombed out of his mind, surrounded by, that's right, Hooters girls. He may not have a career anymore, but he sure knows where to have a swell time.

Then my waitress arrived, grinning like a beautiful maniac, but I should have expected that. After all, as the Playboy article said, "It's an attitude thing. Walk into any Hooters and you'll be greeted with a smile. The waitresses are so genuinely friendly and energetic, you can't help but perk up."

I opened the menu, and at the top there was the Hooters logo, an owl with the two orange O's for eyes. It said, "Look deeply into my eyes and consider this." Then I looked at the waitress's tee shirt with the same, strategically placed owl on it, and I looked into its eyes. Get it? Hooters! Is it owls they're talking about, or . . . is the word even suitable for print . . . breasts? One heck of a restaurant! I asked her what kind of owl it was; the waitress thought for what couldn't have been longer than 11 seconds.

"A brown one!" she said, then she giggled some. So did I.
About that menu. It's full of hefty meals, the kind of food a real man likes to sink his teeth into. Chicken wings, chicken sandwich ("After the wings were gone, what could we do but save the breast?"), Philly cheesesteak, and steamed clams, "Hooters style." There was also the side salad, described as "a delightful experience that any rabbit and most Hooters waitresses would enjoy." What the hell did that mean? I didn't know, but after I read it, I felt like high-fiving somebody!

I ordered some chicken and beer, then sat back and watched the Hooters girls do their things. They all seemed friendly--particularly on the eyes--and none of these lassies was afraid to hustle. I got a kick out of watching 'em strain to carry out overflowing trash cans and bus pans teeming with dirty dishes. Boy, no one can say the Hooters girls don't have that all-American work ethic throbbing deep beneath their owls. The grub was everything you'd expect from a place whose "saga" admits that "the end product is what you see around you." But what if you want to take a little of that product home with you? Hold on, fellas--I'm not talking about the waitresses, for corn's sake.

Hooters offers merchandise aplenty: caps, key rings, golf balls and tees, mugs, beer cozies, and enough tee shirts to wear a different one every day of the week. I asked the Hooter girl at the counter who bought this stuff; she told me, "Tourists."

"But, with something like 200 Hooters coast to coast, can't people buy this stuff in their own city?" I wondered. She frowned for a while.

"Umm, kind of."
When I finally tore myself away from the place at around 11, there was a line of eager customers down the stairs and out the door, ready to enjoy a load of perky female service, Hooters-style. I'll bet the crowds'll keep on comin' for a real long time. And I know that I speak for a lot of fellas out there when I say, "Thank you, Tempe. Thank you, Hooters."

Damn straight!

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Peter Gilstrap
Contact: Peter Gilstrap