VEGAS, Nevada - Hooters, the Atlanta-based eatery
that parlayed spicy chicken wings and busty waitresses
in skimpy outfits into an international restaurant chain,
is opening its first ever casino and hotel a stone's throw
from the Las Vegas Strip.
grand opening begins Thursday evening with a private party
and runs through the weekend. It marks the latest foray
for the "delightfully tacky, yet unrefined"
restaurant that began in 1983 in Clearwater, Fla., and
later branched into calendars, merchandise and even an
customer is already a Vegas kind of customer. They're
a little punky, they're a little high energy, they're
looking for a getaway - and all of those things just match
up," said Ed Droste, one of the six men who founded
Hooters. Four of those original partners together own
a third of the renovated hotel-casino.
696-room property with nine restaurant/bars is a revamp
of the Hotel San Remo and, despite its makeover, remains
a midget compared with the 5,035-room MGM
Grand across the street on a corner of the Strip that
offers 14,000 hotel rooms.
Hotel San Remo, first built in 1973, has been run for
past 17 years by the Izumi family of Japan who maintained
a one-third stake in the rebranded business.
San Remo's revenues and profits stagnated for at least
the past five years, dwarfed in the shadow of the MGM
Grand, New York-New York, Excalibur and Tropicana hotels
on the nearest corner.
Remo was a nice little business," said Richard Langlois,
senior vice president of marketing for Hooters
Casino Hotel. "But the property can be better
utilized with a brand like Hooters."
operators hope to draw from a customer base of about 61
million annual visitors at its some 400 restaurants in
the United States, Canada, Europe, South America, Asia
and the Caribbean.
and reservation hot lines have been set up at 80 restaurants
in the Southwest, and staff will be rewarded with discounts
and free rooms for promoting bookings, executives said.
are ongoing with Hooters of America Inc. to fly customers
to Las Vegas on Hooters Air, they said. The Atlanta-based
company bought the franchise and licensing rights from
the founders and later launched the airline in 2003.
casino operators have rebranded almost every inch of the
hotel, including using subtly placed borderline gags about
the female form that appeal to their core - mostly married
men aged 25 to 54.
the do not disturb signs - which say 'No Knockers' - to
the Nipper's Pool Bar (Droste says it's named after insects
that swarm a famous bar in the Bahamas), the brand continues
to press its titillating image with plausible deniability.
A Hooters Girl dealer bobble-head doll has a 'Blackjack
101' cheat sheet tucked in her trademark orange shorts.
than 200 Hooters Girls, mostly hired from other casinos,
are to work the resort in tight tank tops and short shorts,
while the chain's calendar models will make monthly appearances
to promote sales. Their images will be rotated each month
to adorn some gambling tables and chips.
"orange carpet" opening was to include the arrival
of NFL great Dan Marino, TV star Brook Burke and 40 Hooters
print ad, including a photograph of a Hooters Girl posed
behind a blackjack table, was deemed too racy for weekly
news magazine Time. Time refused to run the ad arguing
the name "Hooters" would offend readers, Langlois
said, but added the spot would run in USA Today this week.
said the company might carve out a niche with a down-market
offering in an area of the Strip that has become more
know their market. It's relatively blue collar and young,"
said University of Nevada, Las Vegas history professor
Hal Rothman, who wrote "Neon Metropolis: How Las
Vegas Started the 21st Century."
really nothing else on the Strip that caters to that market,"
professor Michael Green at the Community College of Southern
suspect they are not going to attract big high rollers,
but I suspect they will attract people who will stay there
and say it's a quick stroll over to a megaresort,"
revamp was paid for with $125 million in debt. Langlois
said he expects to more than triple the San Remo's annual
revenue to about $100 million and have an operating profit
of $22 million to $24 million.
if the casino snags curious visitors off the Strip for
a day or two, the place will do well, he said.
think it's the greatest location you could have ever asked