The annual Stock Show & Rodeo is a time when we in Fort Worth take our cowboy legacy seriously – but not so seriously that we abstain from hootin’ and hollerin.’
But as Cowtown’s Stock Show nears the end of its 2016 run, some of the hollerin’ is not at Will Rogers Coliseum. It’s downtown near Sundance Square, and the noise is not about the hootin’ – it’s about the Hooters.
There has never been a worthwhile Western movie that didn’t have at the heart of its town a saloon. The Long Branch is as much a part of the cowboy mythology as the O.K. Corral.
So it’s curious that the current hubbub surrounds a saloon – a restaurant and bar called “Hooters” that is set to open in June in downtown Fort Worth. The business will add 35 to 45 jobs to our economy, and that’s a lift we need. These new jobs provide augmentation to an already bustling business environment.
The Hooters chain has 420 restaurants located in 42 states and 26 countries. It is perhaps best known for the couture of its waitresses. They wear short, tight shorts and even tighter tank tops. These outfits were considered risqué when the first Hooters opened during the Reagan administration, but by today’s standards they barely raise an eyebrow.
College cheerleaders and actresses on network television flaunt more skin nowadays than a Hooters waitress.
It seems inconceivable that the progressive city of Fort Worth, with its hip, forward-looking vision of the urban lifestyle, could be in a tizzy over Hooters.
But believe it or not, some area residents are attempting to block Hooters and have mounted a Facebook campaign as well as a petition drive – a drive that has a curious twist: Some people whose names appear on the petition say they never signed it.
Fort Worth’s City Council, meanwhile, has twice voted 8-1 in favor of the restaurant and its liquor license. Hey, folks: Game over.
The only real question to be decided as social media fueled the furor was whether to allow Hooters to have an outside patio – and the city’s Downtown Design Review Board voted Jan. 28 to allow the business to air its wares outdoors.
The anti-Hooters crowd seems unaware of Ojos Locos, a downtown restaurant and bar where waitresses dress similarly to those at Hooters but if anything serve up even more of what their customers want to see.
Ojos Locos is Spanish for “Wild Eyes,” which may explain why, especially in the warm months, we’ve noticed Ojos Locos patrons, mostly men, standing outside the restaurant, transfixed almost to the point of being catatonic. Sometimes they walk around the block several times appearing lost and disoriented. We buy the disorientation part.
No petition drive was launched to block Ojos Locos.
All of this reminds us of the early days of Playboy, when folks said they bought the magazine because of its great writing. Same with Hooters. Lots of patrons really love the chicken wings.
Let us remind ourselves that we live in a free-market economy and businesses succeed or fail depending on the level of consumer support. Hooters will rise or sag on its ability to entice customers to scarf down beer and gobble up wings.
Let’s face it. As silly – and futile – as the halt-Hooters movement might be, it’s a pleasant diversion from stories about war, terrorism and the GOP presidential campaign. It almost seems quaint and nostalgic, like Baptists being horrified by the idea of Texas having a lottery. Oh, for the good ol’ days.
The arguments against Hooters seem skimpy to us but in the end, who really gives a hoot?