Much ado about nothing

Somehow, we’re not surprised that a band of citizens from North Natomas are incensed that a new Hooters restaurant likely will open in their neighborhood next November. The risqué dining establishment—renowned for its sexy female waitresses and Dallas Cowboys-cheerleader-style dress code—simply doesn’t belong in a family-oriented community, say members of the newly formed North Natomas Alliance.

It’s a threat to their suburban way of life. It goes against family values. Neighborhood children might see provocatively dressed waitresses coming to and going from the restaurant.

Yawn. Shrug. Whatever.

The hullabaloo seems ludicrous to us, like another case of imposed morality. (Memo to the neighbors: What’s the big deal? Your kids see women dressed like this everywhere in 2004 anyway—on television, movies, billboards, videos, on the beach, etc.)

Based in Atlanta, Ga., Hooters of America Inc. has grown since 1983 into a business with 360 restaurants on four continents. What’s the company’s basic selling point? (Hint: It’s not the chicken wings.) Duh, it’s the waitresses with their orange dolphin shorts and suggestive tank tops. Back in the ’80s, the restaurant’s motto was “delightfully tacky yet unrefined” and, well, we couldn’t have said it better ourselves. Ultimately, Hooters is pretty tame stuff—kind of like an Applebee’s merged with a sports bar with its own cheerleaders.

But the company’s plan to open a fourth Northern California location in the Park Place shopping center near Natomas Boulevard (within a stone’s throw of Arco Arena and those scantily clad Royal Court Dancers!) has the locals in a stir. Almost 80 people from the Natomas Park neighborhood got together last week to plot a stop to the restaurant. They decry the fact that Hooters will be located near two—count ’em—two schools, Natomas Park Elementary School and Inderkum High School.

Even usually levelheaded Sacramento City Councilman Ray Tretheway has gotten into the act, vowing to help neighborhood activists, to meet with the developer of the Park Place shopping center and to encourage him to find another location for Hooters.

Too bad, because Hooters has a clear right to open and has shown it won’t back down in a fight. In 2002, Hooters served free beer for weeks in Arlington, Texas, after a neighborhood group called Decency for Arlington blocked its beer permit from being granted by saying Hooters could attract “sexual predators.” (Hooters won this one.) Just last year, the restaurant became a trouble magnet in the socially liberal San Francisco when the place first opened for business in Fisherman’s Wharf. (Again, when the moral battle cry was done, Hooters remained.)

Let’s face it, folks. Tacky or not, the restaurant has a right to open.

They’re here. They serve beer. Get used to it.