View Full Version : Restaurant Thread

05-25-2006, 01:18 PM
Here ya go, gritty's, I brought it back to life.

08-23-2006, 08:40 PM
Don't ever doubt me again fools...

Hooters restaurant planned for downtown Portland
City officials criticize chain?s image, impact

By Chris Busby

Hooters is coming to town. The Atlanta-based international restaurant franchise famous ? some would say infamous ? for its image of ample-breasted waitresses in tight shirts and short shorts will set up shop in the Free Street space currently occupied by The Stadium.

Stadium owner Michael Harris said Hooters will occupy the portion of his 31,000-square-foot building that fronts Free Street and Brown Street, and The Stadium will move into the vacant portion of the building facing Congress Street. Harris will own both the franchise and The Stadium. He also owns The Oasis, a Wharf Street bar and dance club.

News of Hooters? arrival in downtown Portland has already stirred the ire of some city officials, for a variety of reasons.

?I don?t care for that chain,? said City Councilor Donna Carr. ?I don?t like the image of women it presents?. They don?t respect women.? Carr said she might be more sympathetic to the business if it hired men as well as women as wait staff and required both sexes to wear similar uniforms ? but that?s not about to happen anytime soon.

Harris said it is Hooters? corporate policy to only hire women to work as wait staff. Men can work at Hooters as managers or kitchen staff, he said.

Hooters is ?infamous for its portrayal of women and its denigration of women as employees,? said City Councilor Karen Geraghty. But Geraghty is equally disturbed by the prospect of a chain restaurant opening in the heart of downtown.

?I hope this is a wake-up call to the city to really look at the issue, the role of chain restaurants and chain stores in the downtown area,? said Geraghty. She added that ?it?s ironic? Hooters is coming to town so soon after a new initiative was launched to promote locally owned, independent business in town.

That initiative, called the Portland Buy Local campaign, is a non-profit effort launched in July to promote the benefits of homegrown businesses. The campaign has not opposed specific chain or franchise businesses. [Disclosure: This reporter is an active member of the group organizing and promoting the Portland Buy Local campaign.]

National franchise stores already have a significant, and growing, presence in downtown Portland. A Quizno's sub shop opened earlier this summer in Monument Square. Starbucks, Dunkin' Donuts, Subway and D'Angelo's sub shops are currently operating on Congress Street.

City Councilor Will Gorham said he?s concerned about the prospect of another alcohol-serving establishment on Congress Street. Gorham represents the East End, the portion of downtown that includes The Stadium, and the Old Port. He also chairs a city task force set up to find ways to address problems posed by drunken crowds in the Old Port.

?I don?t want to recreate another Wharf Street along Congress Street,? said Gorham. As for Hooters, Gorham said, ?There are good chain restaurants,? and noted he once ate at a Hooters in Orlando, Florida.

Jan Beitzer, director of Portland?s Downtown District (a quasi-municipal organization that promotes downtown businesses) said that ?although having a franchise choose downtown Portland is a tribute to its economic vitality, we are disappointed that a franchise of this image is coming into the Arts District.

?Their image, obviously, is to sell sex as a reason to go to a restaurant,? Beitzer added. ?It?s an image we would have preferred to avoid.? [Portland?s Downtown District has also been active in the Portland Buy Local campaign.]

Harris said he knew Hooters would cause some controversy, but believes the economic benefits it will bring will be positive for Portland.

Construction will begin within the next 30 days, and the restaurant could be open by the end of the year, Harris said. He said it will create 70 to 80 new jobs and ?bring thousands of people? to a downtown area that needs more business and foot traffic.

Harris also defended the chain?s image and policies. ?You can go to any sports bar and the girls wear less? than Hooters? waitresses, he said. ?It?s not a seedy type of thing. [Hooters] brings in a high-end clientele.? That clientele is ?definitely male-oriented,? he acknowledged, but women also patronize Hooters.

?I'm sure there will be a handful of people who will be hesitant in
the beginning,? Harris wrote in an e-mail announcing the franchise deal, ?but I know once they see that this is nothing more than a restaurant, there is nothing rude or illegal going on,? they will be assuaged. He further noted that Hooters does not serve hard liquor, just beer and wine.

According to its Web site, Hooters has over 435 locations in 46 states and 20 countries. The site states that 30 percent of its management and corporate-office employees are women. Several lawsuits alleging gender discrimination have been filed against the company, according to press reports, but the suits were either settled out of court or dropped by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Chris Busby is editor and publisher of The Bollard. He can be reached at editor@thebollard.com.

08-23-2006, 10:17 PM
told you it was in the arts district. I guess it isnt so bad, especially considering the economic impact, however the name is kinda in your face. Im not exactly a conservative, but is that spot appropriate for such an establishment? but then again, there were half dressed women dancing on poles in the windows at the entrance to havanas, so, who am i to talk.

08-24-2006, 12:33 AM
Don't you think it strange that he's keeping part of it as The Stadium? Doesn't make sense if he owns them both. Has to be a PR move to keep Hooters from being right on Congress. Probably knew it would save him a headache from the city.

08-24-2006, 09:35 AM
yeah, i agree. putting hooters in the lower space makes a lot more sense. right on congress and it would be a little unclassy. i knnow the restaurant probably isnt bad, but its the image it creates regardless due to its name. congress would have been bad. tourists come for the public market which will be a few doors down in the old army surplus store, not to see hooters (they come to escape hooters) thats why i thought it would make more sense to put a hooters in a place like westbrook, where locals can easily access it, but tourists dont have to know about.

08-24-2006, 01:01 PM

Click on the quicktime, it plays better

08-24-2006, 01:07 PM
BBQ heaven for the Portland area this week I guess. This is coming to Patrick's old hangout, the Maine Super Buffet on Brighton ave, on the Westhood/Portland line.


Anyone ever been?

08-24-2006, 01:49 PM
I have been to the famous daves on rte1 in saugus a few times. the food is really good. they have some tasty drinks too. i've always recommended it to friends.


08-24-2006, 02:22 PM
Portland may be home of first Hooters in Maine

A Portland businessman plans to open a Hooters restaurant downtown, bringing the franchise to the state for the first time.

Maine is one of only four states that doesn't have a Hooters, a chain known for its hot wings, owl logo and waitresses in snug, brief uniforms.

Michael Harris, owner of the Stadium Restaurant at 504 Congress St., e-mailed a long letter to city officials and councilors Wednesday, detailing his yearlong effort to bring a franchise restaurant to his site in Portland.

Some of the country's "largest restaurant and sports bar chains" expressed interest, Harris wrote, but one stood out from the rest. That chain was Atlanta-based Hooters, Harris wrote, a corporation with more than 400 locations.

Harris' current restaurant fronts both Congress Street and Free Street. Harris told the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram that he plans to essentially cut the restaurant in half; The Stadium would be on Congress Street and Hooters would be on Free Street, across from the Cumberland County Civic Center.

He said he hopes to get permits from the city within the next month, and to have a Hooters open in about 90 days.

Hooters' image sometimes causes controversy when a franchise opens, and Harris' plan drew comments on Wednesday.

"Although our board hasn't met to discuss this, I would be concerned about the image that Hooters has as something that we're disappointed to see coming into the Arts District," said Jan Beitzer, executive director of the Portland Downtown District.

City Councilor Will Gorham said he is less concerned with Hooters' image than with the fact that another establishment would be serving alcohol in the area.

"The fact that we're having a proliferation of bars opening up on Congress Street is more of an issue for me," said Gorham. "I want to be sure we don't end up with another Wharf Street here" - a reference to the street in the Old Port that has had more than its share of late-night problems.

Lee Urban, Portland's planning and development director, said city zoning allows restaurants at Harris' site.

"I know people have a mind-set about this kind of a restaurant," said Urban. "I'm going to reserve judgment."

Jennifer Halm-Perazone, coordinator of Portland NOW, the local chapter of the National Organization for Women, said the idea of Hooters coming to Maine is "just icky."

"Basically, what they promote is not the food, but the women are the product - that right there says a lot," said Halm-Perazone. "I think it's a statement on our society that women still don't have a level playing field and don't get equal pay for equal work."

Women still make 75 cents "on the man's dollar," she said.

"And society still tells young women that it's their bodies that society wants, and not their minds. If you can go to a restaurant like that and make more money, why wouldn't you"" she said.

Harris noted in his e-mail that there would be "some initial skepticism and a lot of questions" when city leaders heard of his plans.

He also noted that the restaurant chain serves only beer and wine, no hard liquor. The opening of a Hooters downtown may attract other national chains, he said.

And, said Harris, he would be employing another 60 to 70 people.

"It's a plus in every aspect, once people get over the name," said Harris. "It's mostly upper-class business people going to lunch. If those aren't the people who you want in your Arts District, I don't know who you want."

Harry Grindrod, director of international franchise operations for Hooters, acknowledged that there is sometimes controversy when a Hooters restaurant opens in a community.

"Most people who have controversy over a Hooters restaurant have never been to one," said Grindrod. "It truly is a neighborhood restaurant that serves casual dining food."

Grindrod confirmed that Hooters has been working with a team of investors in Maine for about a year, and said he expects a franchise agreement to be signed within 30 days.

"Unless something is drastically strange, I don't see it not going through," said Grindrod. The partners, he added, "will make Maine very proud."

"We definitely are going to be in Maine, probably within the next year," said Grindrod.

Grindrod wouldn't identify the partners but said there would likely be two or three Hooters in Maine.

He said he doesn't believe the first site will be in Portland.

Staff Writer Matt Wickenheiser can be reached at 791-6316 or at:


Reader comments
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Pam of Portland, ME
Aug 24, 2006 12:41 PM
Yeah right. OOB is trying to get away from their honky-tonk atmosphere and Portland is trying to get one.

Dave of Scarborough, Me
Aug 24, 2006 12:39 PM
Hooters in Maine, great franchise, great wings! The move to the Old Port area will be a blend of cultures to the already interesting area. As others have tried to duplicate thier mastering of the Buffalo Wing, now Portlanders will not have to travel the U.S. to fine the atomic atmosphere and food from which Hooters is known for. To say nothing for the sports atmosphere and the up beat establishment. The food and drink is the real draw there as a unique part that the Old Port is missing. My only down sight is that it is a fast food place that draws a lot of cutomers that are always on the move. Where will they have the area to park to enjoy this type of restuarant? I welcome Hooter's with open wings!! To bad we have to wait until after the first of the year.

Ken of Bangor, ME
Aug 24, 2006 12:38 PM
This is great news for Portland, maturing and growing to truly being a "big" city with more diversity. I have been to many hooters and found them tasteful. If Ms Perazone doesn't like the establishment there are many others. As far as the comment about a "male" hooters is concerned it would prbably be called something other than Hooters, but if the market is there, why not, as long as its activities are legal and tasteful.

Aug 24, 2006 12:38 PM
It's always the women you wouldn't want to see naked that object to places like hooters. Sounds like sour grapes (or melons?) to me.

08-24-2006, 10:15 PM
Wow, 106 comments on the pressherald site! Probably 80 are pro Hooters. Funny funny stuff on there.

Anyone thinking it will sleaze up Congress st. , needs to take a nice long walk from Longfellow square to monument square. Hmmm, what's worse, Hooters with no windows, or a drunk guy peeing in a doorway? Hmm...

M. Brown
08-24-2006, 10:21 PM
BBQ heaven for the Portland area this week I guess. This is coming to Patrick's old hangout, the Maine Super Buffet on Brighton ave, on the Westhood/Portland line.


Anyone ever been?
Mmmm good stuff. They have one here in Manch.

08-26-2006, 10:16 PM

Went out to eat and have a drink at 51 wharf street tonight. It, along with the thai'd in knots store, replaced headliners and that mexican restaurant, and it was VERY nice atmosphere. restaurant and wine bar mainly....dimly lit, very nice.

09-02-2006, 09:27 AM
Hooters planned for Congress Street causes a stir
By Kate Bucklin
PORTLAND ? Everyone seemed to be talking about Hooters last week, following an announcement by the owner of The Stadium, Michael Harris, that he planned to bring the national chain restaurant to the heart of Congress Street.

Harris, in a letter to the city Aug. 23, explained how he decided Hooters would be a good fit in the Arts District. He spent nine months putting together a franchise deal with the restaurant, he said, and believes the introduction of a major chain restaurant on Congress Street could lead to more corporate restaurants locating on Congress Street, which could boost the area economically.

Some Congress Street stakeholders have a different view. Although spokeswoman Jessica Tomlinson acknowledged Maine College of Art students are not likely clients of Hooters, college president James Baker released a statement explaining MECA?s hope for the district. In the statement, he said the college would like the city to somehow designate the Arts District as a place for businesses interested in making ?unique and culturally relevant contributions? to the district.

A similar sentiment has been bouncing between City Councilors through e-mail since Harris announced his intentions last week.

City Councilor Karen Geraghty said she has received dozens of phone calls and emails from Portland residents ? mostly women ? opposed to Hooters coming to the city.

?It?s objectifying and degrading to women,? Geraghty said. ?This community has very different values than that.?

Geraghty said there is no restriction barring Hooters from a liquor license, but she is looking in to ways to stop Hooters from being allowed to open in Portland.

?You can be assured I?m looking in to it,? she said.

Others, including Kimball Court developer Charlie Hewitt, think introducing Hooter?s to Portland is a non-issue.

?I don?t really think everything on Congress Street needs to be wine and cheese,? Hewitt said. ?I like free enterprise.?

Kimball Court is located across Brown Street from The Stadium. The development consists of a couple dozen condo units and two ground level commercial spaces. Hewitt dismisses the idea that a Hooters would negatively affect sales of the 12 remaining units.

?People are still moving to Congress Street,? he said.

The Portland Downtown District has fielded several complaints from Arts District businesses since the Hooters announcement Aug. 23. Executive Director Jan Beitzer said the district Board of Directors will discuss the issue at its September meeting.

?It?s of course disappointing to have a brand like that come in to the arts and cultural district,? she said.

Beitzer also pointed out that bringing in a national chain is counterproductive to the recently launched ?Buy Local? campaign, which encourages consumers to patronize locally owned stores.

Hooters got its start in Clearwater, Fla. in 1983, when it introduced its concept of pub-style food served by ?Hooters Girls,? whose official uniform is a white tank top, short orange shorts, pantyhose and bras.

Maine is one of four states that has gone without a Hooters thus far. According to the company website, ?Sex appeal is legal and it sells.?

The restaurant has run in to some legal challenges regarding its policy of not hiring men to be ?Hooters Girls,? but so far has not been forced to change that policy. Men are hired for management positions, hosts, service bar and kitchen positions, the website says.

Neither Michael Harris or Hooters corporate offices in Georgia returned repeated phone calls and e-mail requests seeking comment.

Kate Bucklin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or kbucklin@theforecaster.net