HUNGRY diners looking for a side of well-endowed waitresses with their beer and wings will now have to find a new watering hole to satisfy their appetites. Queens’ only Hooters was transformed last week into Bud’s Ale House, a sports bar and restaurant, after a franchise dispute between the owners of the Fresh Meadows restaurant and Hooters of America. The Atlanta-based parent company sued the Strix Restaurant Group, which owned four Hooters in Queens and Long Island, last month for not making franchise payments. Strix plans to countersue before Nov. 7. “We can do a much better job of providing a good quality, affordable meal…without providing the girls in uniforms,” said Strix attorney Ed McCabe. McCabe said the Hooters menu was “stale” and the scantily clad waitresses were actually hurting business – so Strix converted its beer-and-boob joints into sports bars and restaurants. “Eighty percent of the population wouldn’t go into a Hooters,” he said.
“For the average man, it’s not worth explaining to his wife.” Hooters opened its first store in 1983 and has 430 worldwide locations. The company plans to open in Manhattan next year and is in negotiations to open five more in Long Island, a Hooters official said. “We are extremely protective of the Hooters brand,” Hooters CEO Terry Marks said in a statement. “In the unfortunate circumstance that a franchisee is not complying with its obligations…we must take actions to protect our concept.” So- called “breastaurants,” which feature greasy food, buxom waitresses and sporting events on TV, are growing, according to Darren Tristano, executive vice president of Technomic, a food industry research and consulting firm. But Hooters, still the industry leader, has stayed flat due to more competition and its reluctance to modernize, he said. “Hooters is becoming a little more tired,” he said. Meanwhile, Bud’s has 20 beers on tap, a wing- and burger- based menu and flat-screen TVs showing sports games. Another location opened last month in Astoria. And at Bud’s, the wait-staff wears jeans and loose t-shirts – instead of orange hot shorts. Bud’s waitress Stefanie DeFlorio, who waited tables at Hooters for four years, said she’s pleased with the change-over. “People think Hooters is a strip club,” she said. But now “a lot more people are coming in.” Hooters patron Cherelle Douglas, 24, of South Ozone Park, said she’ll now come more often. “I wasn’t a big fan of the girls walking around in tiny shorts,” she said. firstname.lastname@example.org