Hooter's shakes things up with its drums and flappers
This week I reached out for a 20-piece plate of Hooters' "nearly world famous" wings tossed in … let's see, I'll try the new Chipotle Honey sauce today.
For the first time in 30 years (my waitress's parents were still in junior high school 30 years ago), the iconic American "breastaurant" has shaken up its menu, added new wing sauces and laid plans to redesign its decor.
Hooters suddenly has competition from casual sports-frenzy restaurants with pretty girls serving platters of wings and pitchers of beer. If you don't stand up to the competition, you lose to the competition.
Don't worry, the Hooters Girls will still be … Hooters Girls. Compared with the competition these days, Hooters is PG-rated. Hooters Girls are dressed closer to cheerleaders than the Victoria's Secret hopefuls at other wing joints. My local Hooters restaurants hosts Little League parties on Saturday afternoons.
I don't judge … anything but the food. And I've always liked Hooters' wings. They come breaded and deep-fried, but I order them "naked" --without breading. That way, I can eat 20 instead of 10. I am a master at fooling myself.
My snobby friends order "all drums" -- the part of the wing that looks like a chicken leg. There's more meat on a drum. I prefer a 10/10 mix of drums and "flappers" -- the longer, flat pieces. I like flappers because there's more surface area to grab the sauce. I've put a lot of thought into this.
Used to be, Hooters had only five wing sauces: Mild, Medium, Hot, Three Mile Island and 911. All the original sauces are still there, but Hooters has added: Samurai (teriyaki-style), Lemon Pepper, Chipotle Honey, BBQ and Daytona. The Daytona wings are different. They're fried "naked," then finished off on the grill. They take some getting used to, but they're developing a cult following.
Hooters has upped its game on the rest of its menu, too. Now the wings and hamburgers are fresh, never frozen. The number of salads has boomed from three to six. The old salads had iceberg lettuce, and now they have mixed greens. Shrimp is a new salad add-on. The bar offers a wider array of beer, wine and liquor. Burgers automatically come with curly fries.