WACO – Hundreds of patrons – mostly men – munched on chicken wings and hamburgers served by waitresses in low-cut tank tops and tight shorts Tuesday at Hooters’ grand opening, months after about 60 ministers tried to stop the restaurant’s construction.
The Rev. Greg Brumit, who disapproved of the increased traffic in the neighborhood as well as the skimpy outfits, said no more protests were planned.
“We’ve done all we can do. We’ll just leave the rest to the Lord,” said Brumit, pastor of Kendrick Lane Baptist Church. “They’re welcome to come down the street to our church.”
Last fall, Brumit was among dozens of ministers who wrote a letter to city and county officials, saying Hooters should not come to Waco.
Company officials say they are not surprised by the protests because the restaurant blatantly uses sex appeal, but “believes the Hooters girl is as socially acceptable as a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader, Sports Illustrated swimsuit model or Radio City Rockette,” according to the Hooters Web site.
“Some towns are a little skeptical at first, but then we get involved because we want to be part of the community, and we know that’s part of our success,” said Scott Wilkinson, executive vice president of Texas Wings, the Dallas-based franchise of Hooters of America.
Wilkinson said the Waco restaurant worked with the neighborhood about traffic concerns and sponsored a little-league football team. Hooters also held a VIP reception Monday night, and a Catholic priest was there to say a blessing.