Owner says decision has nothing to do with controversy
Hooters, the restaurant known for its voluptuous waitresses, will not open in downtown St. John’s.
Hooters was set to open in late spring in the location of the now-closed Club One. Owner John Cook told The Telegram the decision to back out was a personal choice.
“It just really wasn’t something I wanted to do right now, personally,” said Cook. “I’ve got four places happening in one area and I figured it might be best to cut it.”
Cook owns the Sundance Bar and Grill, Dusk Ultralounge, the George Street Beer Market and Big Ben’s.
“It may not be the fit we’re looking for, and there’s a heck of a lot of other little things behind the scenes that I just didn’t want to get involved with,” he said.
Hooters is known for its “Hooters Girls”— a waitressing staff of attractive women in tight uniforms who are encouraged to play up their appeal.
The announcement that Hooters was coming to St. John’s attracted much controversy, with some people concerned about the restaurant’s objectification of women, sexist hiring practices and the possibility for sexual harassment. Others mourned the loss of Club One as a performance venue.
However, Cook says those objections had absolutely no influence on his decision not to open the restaurant.
“It had nothing to do with the controversy around it whatsoever. None whatsoever,” said Cook. “It was great advertising! I could never afford to buy that advertising.”
Cook says Club One will not reopen and he’s not yet sure what he will do with the space.
“There’s a few avenues we’re looking at, but we’ll wait until the end of the summer to see what’s happening and we’ll go from there,” he said.
“I’ll say there’ll be something else in the future. I’ve got a few other things that I’m doing right now but I can’t say right now.”
Cook says he may open a Hooters at some point in the future, but right now it is not his best option.
“I think it would have been a great fit for downtown, but it’s just some other things came up and I thought it might be better to go a different direction,” he said.
“Maybe another younger generation might do it. I’ve been in this market for over 40 years, so maybe somebody might who wants to work six nights a week like I did for 15, 20 years, which I didn’t want to do anymore.
“I think there will be some disappointed, but that’s the nature of business. I’ve been in business now for 40 years. I’ve closed some, I’ve opened some, so I really can’t worry about that part of it.”