I had a curious craving for chicken wings last Sunday and a trip to Hooters satisfied both my hunger and my curiosity.
Had I just been hungry for hot wings, I could have gone to Buffalo Wild Wings or even the grocery store. But, I was equally parts famished and interested in the family-friendly policies of the Hooters chain.
The Wife and I would occasionally eat at Hooters in the days before children. It took a bit of coaxing, but she eventually fell in love with the spicy chicken sandwich. Back then, I never really paid attention to the crowd. This time, I wondered if kids would be welcome.
Would the innuendo-laden franchise known for its sexy servers have high chairs? Is there such thing as a Hooters kids’ menu? And if so, does the “More Than a Mouthful” burger come in a junior size?
These and other questions swirled in my mind as I pulled into the parking lot after Sunday mass. The Ludwig family was among the first customers of the day. To my surprise, another family had been seated before us.
I was relieved. Part of me wondered if The Wife and I would be the only parents in the restaurant with children. I feared having to eat my wings as construction workers and bikers stared at my family shaking their heads in disapproval.
A hostess seated us near the other family and quickly gathered a couple of high chairs. As we sat down, our waitress greeted us with a smile and crouched down to present my two toddlers with black-and-white children’s menus that doubled as coloring pads and crayons.
I really doubted that Hooters would be so accommodating. It’s not like two boys under the age of three are the target demographic for this restaurant. And yet, Hooters had all these little welcome distractions that kept my sons from becoming brats at the dinner table.
Of course, the meal wasn’t without its share of uncomfortable moments. My 2 ½-year-old son was enthralled by all of the Hooters T-shirts, hats and other gear hanging on the walls. Most items were innocent, but I was glad he didn’t spot the mouse pad featuring a Hooters girl whose chest doubled as a wrist cushion. It just begged to be squeezed.
Then there was the kid’s T-shirt that read, “Future Hooters Girl.” That was sort of awkward and made me question if I would still be eating at the restaurant if I had daughters instead of sons.
Regardless, our food came fast – another important factor in successfully eating out with children. The boys split a grilled cheese and our Hooters girl gladly brought it to the table as The Wife and I enjoyed our wings. They continued to nibble as we later devoured two spicy chicken breast sandwiches.
After the meal, I took Bubba to the men’s room. He’s still pottytraining, and I had downed about a dozen iced teas. We finished our business. and I looked around the room for a changing table, thinking I might return with my 18-month-old who needed a fresh diaper.
Alas, there was no changing table to be found. Proof, Hooters may not be the most family-friendly restaurant, but it’s hardly the least.
Image credit: Josh Ward, Flickr
Howard Ludwig is a former business writer who traded his reporter’s notebook for a diaper bag, becoming a stay-at-home dad.
9 thoughts on “[LUDWIG@HOME]
Hooters + Kids = Good Idea?”
While I wouldn’t be taking my wife, my kids, or myself to Hooters, it doesn’t surprise me that there are families who eat there or that Hooters is properly, um, equipped to feed children. If you found the same was true at the local topless bar, though, it might provide reason for concern!
Interesting post. I certainly think this will get a lot of comments. I recently went to Hooters to meet friends to celebrate a birthday, it was about 8pm and crowded. We decided not to stay, but before leaving the crowded BAR (let’s be honest, it is a bar with wings and boobs – not a family restaurant) I went to the restroom. In the restroom I discovered a woman in the corner holding a newborn. A NEWBORN BABY IN A BAR on a SATURDA NIGHT!! Call me old-fashioned, but I would never do that! 2 weeks old she said. You can bet your butt when my babies were two weeks old, I was not considering going out to have wings and beer with my newborn. Nice, that’s where I want my babies to be! Hey fella, watch the high chair, your spilling your beer on my kids head! I would rather not put my kids in a position where I have to say that to someone.
2nd point, I do not think anything is wrong with Hooters, but it has an intended market and although they don’t discriminate in any way against kids, let’s be honest..it is not their target market. On another occasion at a Hooters, some friends and I were sipping a couple cold ones on the deck near the beach and eating some wings. At the table next to us a couple was taking out what seemed to be a tee-ball team for some wings and boobs. Nice. Although it seemed a little innapropriate (and I was wondering to myself if they had bred all these little ones themselves or if their parents knew where they were), I didn’t pay much attention. The beers were going down pretty good for me and my friends and story-telling ensued with a bit of colorful language. The woman at the table next to us (with all the kids) decided to say something to my friend about his colorful language in front of the kids. I was flabbergasted! You bring kids to a bar at night, which is one step away from topless dancing and you are going to ask someone to not swear!??!?! You brought KIDS to a Bar!! People drink and swear in bars (and more.)
I do not have a problem with Hooters. What I have a problem with is people thinking it is anything other than a bar with wings. It is a bar people. You can kid yourself into thinking it is a family restaurant, but people go there to drink, look at boobs and eat wings.
Howard – you’re a sick man; I love it! Hillarious and great article! I’m looking forward to the comments on this one! -B
Family friendly misogyny is still misogyny, crayons and coloring pages included.
I certainly wouldn’t tell anyone how to raise their kids even though I’ll admit I do talk about such things in private with my wife. I don’t think I’d have to get her take on this one however: it just isn’t a place for children. You mentioned that if you had daughters you might think twice about going there…but it is just as poor a message for boys as it is girls. I have a son with another on the way and I can say with all honesty that I’d never go there (with or without them) because those outfits are demeaning to women. And if it isn’t the least appropriate restaurant for children, I’d be interested to hear what you think is worse.
Boys are future patrons and girls are future employees. They would be dumb not to treat them right. I am glad you got to enjoy the experiment. My wife would probably kill me.
I would agree with rugbymom that Hooter’s is not the place for a newborn of 2 weeks! I have a 13 month old and I would take him. However, I would take him during the day in-between lunch and dinner. It is a bar that serves food as it’s pitch, so is Ruby Tuesday, TGI Fridays and quite a few others. Hooters is just blunt about it. Oh yeah…the girls aren’t bad either! LOL!
Personally, I don’t see the problem with bringing to children to Hooters for lunch or dinner. The only difference between Hooters and say TGI Fridays or Applebee’s are the waitresses. The target patrons are from the same demographic and it is not like Hooter’s is a strip club or even a go go club. Would you keep the kids away from the beach because some women, and surprisingly men, choose to wear thongs or other skimpy bathing suits? As Americans we are so prudish and yet love to use sex to sell everything.
A Hooters girl not long ago offered me sex for travel. More recently, a Hooter Girl put my computer on her facebook page where she was buck naked I have seen Lesbian Hooter Girls harass straight ones and then physically intimidate them. I have had Hooter Girls make proposals to me– $ for sex. Consider the Hooters Corporate Trainer in the Jarman Gray case. The Trainer encouraged the waitresses to perform sex acts for money with the customers. Jarman Gray was fired for objecting. I believe it is possible to be at least somewhat decent and be a Hooter Girl or I wouldn’t go there at all ever. But the place does attract some employees and managers that are real perverts. Is that really a surprise? It’s named “Hooters”. It’s not a place for children.