Hooters says Give a Hoot for Breast Cancer Awareness

People know Hooters, or at least they know of Hooters. It’s the restaurant chain that got its start on April 1, 1983 in Clearwater, FL. Now you can go just about anywhere in America and find a Hooters restaurant. Interestingly enough, there are six states that don’t have a Hooters. Don’t know which states, after briefly trying to look it up, I decided I didn’t need to know.

The original Hooters in Clearwater, FL (Google)
The original Hooters in Clearwater, FL (Google)

Hooters is “delightfully tacky, yet unrefined.” Some critics call it a lot of other things. Even after 32 years Hooters is a controversial subject because, well, the name says it all. It really isn’t about the owl in the company’s logo. But it is one of the most popular restaurant chains in America and is spreading throughout the world.

Hooters is about breasts, ask anyone. The usually white — and sometimes black or camouflage — tank tops the waitresses wear, are revealing. It is not just common to have patrons stare at the “Hooters Girls,” it is expected. And you can have your photo taken with the Hooters Girls.

Along with the Hooters Girls you’ll get TV’s, lots and lots of TV’s, focused on sports. Can’t get your favorite football team at home? Go to Hooters and have yourself parked in front of a wide screen showing the game.

Then order some drinks and food. Their menu is larger than you would expect and even includes, believe it or not, salads. But they are known for their burgers and other sandwiches, fried pickles and most of all their wings, which come in two textures — breaded or naked (Daytona style, which means grilled) — and 11 flavors, from mild to XXX habanero. In between there is 3 Mile Island, which used to be my favorite sauce, but I’ve dialed it back to Hot lately. Along with the wings you can have some curly fries or onion rings and voila! You have a meal to make your cardiologist cringe.

The 2016 Hooters Calendar with Meagan Pastorchik (Hooters)
The 2016 Hooters Calendar with Meagan Pastorchik (Hooters)

The company has grown to such an extent they have a calendar featuring hundreds of Hooters Girls from around the world. You can buy Hooters clothing, hats, lighters, playing cards and lots of other semi-collectible items.

Every year there are Hooters swimsuit pageants held at local Hooters around the world, with local Hooters Girls in bikinis and themed costumes competing for cash prizes and a chance to be in regional contests and possibly the international bikini pageant, which was held in Las Vegas this year.

Speaking of Las Vegas: Sin City not only has Hooters Restaurants, it also has the Hooters Casino-Resort on the famed strip.

Hooters has become an American icon.

There are a lot of reasons to go to your local Hooters, be it to watch a pay-per-view event (usually with a cover charge and reservations required), the bikini contests, to watch sports or just hang out.

Some years ago the company decided to give back to the community. Maybe it started when Hooters Girls would bring water and lemonade to people protesting the restaurants, I do not know.

Hooters Girls with the Give a Hoot pink bracelets (Hooters)
Hooters Girls with the Give a Hoot pink bracelets (Hooters)

One of the things they do each year is the “calendar drop.” Patrons buy their calendars and then one or more that are shipped to members of the military around the world.

Another of its community outreach programs happens every October — Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Give a Hoot, to help in the fight against breast cancer. Last year they raised over $600,000 for the cause and this year their goal is to raise over $1 million.

You can donate easily enough: buy a calendar and a dollar is contributed to the Kelly Jo Dowd Breast Cancer Research Fund and other local beneficiaries. You can buy a pink bracelet, or a pink drink; or you can “pink up” your check with a donation added to the bill. Or you can Click Here and donate — or bid to win a one-of-a-kind Hooters monster truck.

Kelly Jo Dowd, for whom the fund is named, was one of the original Hooters Girls and appeared on the cover of the 1995 Hooters Calendar. She fought a long battle with the disease and succumbed in 2007. Since then Hooters has raised over $2 million for breast cancer research, treatment and awareness.

Claudia Gestro at the West Covina Alumnae Party (Claudia Gestro)
Claudia Gestro at the West Covina Alumnae Party (Claudia Gestro)

From that fund it goes to the V Foundation for Cancer Research, named for Jim Valvano — Jimmy “V” — former head coach of the North Carolina State Wolfpack basketball team that won the Men’s 1983 NCAA Tournament. He went on to become an announcer for ESPN and ABC Sports. He too died of cancer, just eight weeks after delivering his now famous 1993 speech at the ESPY Awards.

Before he passed away, Valvano and ESPN set up the V Foundation and his legacy continues in the form of grants for cancer research.

On October 3 Hooters restaurants across America held “Alumnae Parties,” with former Hooters Girls participating to help get the campaign started. Our sports reporter, Claudia Gestro, attended the Hooters Alumnae party at the West Covina Hooters in California.

So, now you have another reason for going to Hooters, at least this month, Breast Cancer Awareness Month. There are four locations in the Baltimore area. Have some wings, buy a few drinks and calendars — and help find a cure for breast cancer.