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Great big owl

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BRUCE ELLIOTT
  • Bruce Elliott

Delightfully tacky, yet unrefined, that's Hooters' (359 locations worldwide and an airline) mantra, their slogan, and apparently their formula for success.

Citadel Mall Hooters Girl Elizabeth Jones told me the atmosphere is different at Hooters; it's loud and obnoxious. She doesn't consider it tacky, but more fun.

She's 20, and has worked at Hooters on and off since she was 16, starting as a hostess. Her mom's friends suggested she apply.

"It's definitely not the prices that attract customers," she told me. "It's Hooters, and I mean Hooters the restaurant."

Hmmm, I thought, Hooters is named for a great big owl. The Hooters uniform is a snugly fitting white tank top with orange stretch short-shorts. There are large owls on the front of the waitresses' work shirts. "Do customers compliment you on your big hooters?"

"Not me," she said flatly.

The uniforms, she says, are not the most flattering; they can bring out all of a woman's insecurities.

"Do you have trouble spots?" I asked her. Note: She was not wearing her uniform during our interview, but she described a six-month stint in New York to try a modeling career.

She didn't.

"Ever been pinched, or anything?"

"The guys are not as bad as everyone thinks," she said.

"What attracts your customers?"

She told me atmosphere, food and definitely women, in that order.

A Hooters Girl makes $2.13 an hour, and Jones received an $800 gratuity one time, but she told me her tips run "very cold, very, very cold," sometimes.

Originally from California, Jones has lived in Colorado Springs most of her life and has taken general studies classes at Pikes Peak Community College. She says she plans to move away soon -- she doesn't know where yet -- to go to school, perhaps veterinary school.

I wished her well.

Then I asked Willie, one of the managers at the Citadel Mall store, if there's ever been a boy Hooters Girl.

He told me not to his knowledge, but a boy was a Hooters hostess once.

-- by Malcolm Allyn

photo by Bruce Elliott

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