Hooters a ‘natural thing’ for downtown: club owner

Live music venue Club One will close in March

Published on January 28, 2014

A chain restaurant best known for its busty waitresses in tight outfits will soon have a St. John’s location.

A Hooters restaurant is set to open later this spring in the building that Club One currently occupies on George Street.

In a status update posted to its Facebook page Sunday, the Sundance Complex said Club One will close as a music venue in March and reopen later in the spring as Hooters.

The last concert at Club One —  featuring Halifax rock band Gloryhound — is scheduled to take place Feb. 21. The music venue has played host to mid-sized concerts for more than a decade.

 

Forced to make a change

Club One owner John Cook told The Telegram business has been slow for the last year, thus forcing him to make a change.

“(Hooters) is just a natural thing for downtown St. John’s,” said Cook, who hopes to see Hooters open in June.

Reaction to the news has been swift on social media.

Some have bemoaned the loss of a live music venue that could accommodate large crowds, while others have taken issue with Hooters marketing practices in relation to its female employees.

One woman who works in the service industry told The Telegram Monday that she is already concerned about the challenges its employees will inevitably face.

“I know how hard it is to deal with sexual harassment,” said the woman, who did not want to provide her name. “Working in the industry, I’ve seen it be an issue.”

Asked what suggestions she might have for management, she said staff should be encouraged to tell customers where to go if the situation calls for it.

“Make sure the girls are allowed to tell people to f--- off,” she said. “Because I know where I work, I’m allowed to say that ... I’ll say, ‘You’re being inappropriate, I’m going to kick you out.’ As long as they can say that sort of thing or there’s some sort of training in place (to say) this is the kind of stuff you’re going to deal with.”

Cook said he does not expect harassment will be an issue at his restaurant once it opens. He added his managers have been working with staff on George Street for a long time and are well aware of what sort of customers they may deal with.

“That’s not something we’re worried about whatsoever.”

Asked whether he expected some members of the public to react negatively, Cook noted the presence of two strip bars near his businesses.

“We’re not a strip bar,” he said. “It’s a family restaurant. It’s catering to children. If you go on the site, you see children go to this place. And a big part of it is it’s a sports bar.”

One person The Telegram spoke with Monday did suggest news of a Hooters restaurant coming to St. John’s was nothing to talk about in a place already filled with eating establishments where customers can watch live sports.

“I don’t see any difference in it really,” said the man, who did not want to provide his name. “Have a feed, watch the game and everything else. The way the waitresses dress, that doesn’t matter.”

Cook’s Hooters will become the lone location in Atlantic Canada. A Hooters in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia closed in 2009 following a fire.