Monday, October 23, 2006

Hooter's (Yes, Hooter's)

This location has closed since the writing of this review. There's still a Hooter's downtown, but they do not offer a kids eat free day.

The unedited "day six" (there was no "day five") of Do French Fries Make You Strong?

2653 Mt. Moriah
(901) 795-7123

Satchel (age 4): Kid's Wings $0
Jiro (age 2): Kid's Hot Dog $0
Warren (Of course I waited for Warren to come back in town): Buffalo Chicken Sandwich &7.29 and Fries $1.99
Me: Hooter's Cobb Salad $7.49
2 Kid's Lemonades $1.98
Total (with tax) $21.04
with tip: $27.04 (good service deserves a good tip!)

The minute we pulled into the Hooter's parking lot I had a What the hell am I doing? moment. I mean, was this the ultimate in kidzploitation or what? I took a deep breath and led the monkeys inside.

I hadn't prepped them at all about what kind of restaurant we were going to. I was curious to see if they would pick up on anything "different" themselves. They knew that a photographer was coming, but that was it. (Having grown up with a camera in their faces and with a mother who often has their pictures published, this didn't seem very unusual to them.) Of course, I was secretly hoping for some funny, off the cuff comments.

At 1:30, Hooter's had a pretty decent crowd. I'd say there were twenty to thirty men of various ages parked in front of a wall of TVs. Most of them were drinking beer and just hangin'. I was the only woman present (not on staff, that is) and we seemed to be the only people taking advantage of the "kids eat free on Saturdays" offer. There was a giant gumball machine right inside the door that occupied the monkeys' attention and they noticed little else. I admired the huge merchandise area and took deep breaths until a nice, scantily clad waitress informed us that we could sit anywhere we wanted and that the kids ate for free.

I grabbed a highchair from as stack of five or so and headed to a table that wasn't near anyone else. I noticed each table had a full roll of paper towels on it...presumably for wiping "hot sauce" off of "fingers." The waitress, Emily, came over with paper kids menus and crayons and took our drink order. Jiro asked for "Juis" and she informed us that lemonade was the closest thing they had to juice. No problem. I read the kids menu upside down from Jiro's placemat as he began coloring. I read aloud to the monkeys: "Chicken wings, chicken strips, burger, grilled cheese, hot dog, PB&J, fish & chips (all with curly fries for just $2.99). What do yall want?"

"Fish & chips!" Satchel said.

"Hot dog!" Jiro said.

"Nobody wants chicken? They are famous for chicken!" I said.

"Okay I'll take chicken strips," Satchel said.

"Why not try the chicken wings with bones?" I prodded.

"Okay," he said most agreeably. (He was utterly rapt up in the activities on his menu.)

Next I set about figuring out what I was going to eat. Thanks to the buxom ladies decorating my menu, everything looked good. (I also noticed that Warren was taking an unusually long time to order. Hmmm...) I was pretty wary of ordering seafood and I didn't want wings. Finally, I decided on the Hooter's Cobb salad. I thought for sure that Warren would get the wings, but he went for the chicken breast sandwich ("Hold the chicken and the sandwich," as Steve Carrell would say).

J, the (vegetarian) photographer arrived and confirmed that he wasn't planning to eat, said hi to the monkeys, shook hands with Warren, and set off to get the manager's permission to take photos.

I noticed that most of waitresses weren't really flaunting their "hooters." The "look" seemed to center on extremely skimpy orange shorts. (Panties might be more apropos.) To finish the look, they all hand on brown pantyhose that reminded me of the L'eggs my grandmother used to buy at Walgreen's. Emily had several runs in her L'eggs emanating from her left butt cheek.

J returned and said the manager had to call "corporate headquarters." By now we had ordered and the monkeys were happily slurping on their lemonades (in styrofoam cups). Jiro was especially interested in J's photo equipment and made it clear that he was ready to assist at anytime.

A few minutes later, J got the okay to start shooting and he got several shots of the monkeys with their restaurant supplied kid props. Jiro was totally mugging for the camera like he was a paid model. The picture taking attracted much attention and several waitresses inquired if it was Jiro's birthday. "Yes," I said.

"Is he two?" the asked sweetly.

"Yes," I said, trying not to laugh.

"Should we get some balloons?"

"No, no that's okay."

I know I have no room to point fingers, but bringing a two-year-old to Hooter's for his birthday!? Are you serious?

Our food came out pretty swiftly and J asked Emily to do a little one-on-one with Jiro. Several times she bent down and put his plate in front of him, while J shot away. Each time she took it away to try again, Jiro tried to grab a curly fry off the plate. J finally got a good shot and we all commenced eating. Both monkeys were enamored by the curly fries and held each one up to show us how cool they were before gobbling them up. Warren's chicken breast was enormous (just the way he likes them) and was literally falling off the bun. My cobb salad, with buffalo chicken, was actually rather delicious.

I tried to get Satchel to eat his wings, but he said they were too hot. Jiro took his hot dog out of the bun and squawked when he saw the white pieces of bun sticking to it. Warren removed them and he ate a few bites before chucking it across the table.

J, satisfied with his shots, left us to finish the meal on our own. Once he was out the door, Satchel said, "I need to poop." Warren actually offered to take him, and Jiro insisted on joining them, so I had a good minute and a half to enjoy my salad before they all returned and Warren said, "You better take them, the men's room is packed."

I thought that was pretty hilarious.

We headed to the women's room where everything was nice and quiet. Satchel went in one stall (with a built in changing table) and Jiro went in the other. Thankfully they were both quick and as I was zipping Jiro up a waitress came in. She smiled at the monkeys and was as nice as she could be. I thought of striking up a conversation with her, but chickened out.

Back at the table it took awhile to get the check because the manager had to okay the freebies. I decided to ask him why they offered a kids' eat free day since none of the other Hooter's did.

"Uh, I don't know. I can call corporate," he said.

I realized he was maybe nineteen-years-old and a little freaked out. "Uh, okay," I said.

He started walking away and then (feeling embarrassed) turned back. "This store was opened by a guy with four kids. I think he started it. The manager now has one kid and one on the way. It's good for business and good for the community. Not everyone around here is that well off, so it helps people afford to eat out."

Okay, that sounded good. "Do a lot of people take advantage of the offer?" I asked since I hadn't seen any other kids.

"Oh yeah," he said. We had about six kids in here earlier and there will be more as the day goes on."

I thanked him, gave our waitress a huge-ish tip, and headed towards the car. As I was leaving I noticed two men each with a pre-teen son coming in.

I joined the boys who were already strapped in their carseats. "Did you like that restaurant?" I asked.

"Yes!" they hollered.

"What did you like best?"

"The curly fries!"

And there you have it. I guess they're not breast men after all.

Hooters on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

You are totally going to Hell. And who talks a 4 year old into ordering hot wings?

Stacey Greenberg said...

wings that are still hot from cooking and "hot wings" are two different things.

i was going to hell long before this meal!

mrchrishill said...

Very funny read.

Thanks for sharing... not sure I'll take my little one though. But good to hear kids probably wouldn't notice anything different about the place. We "adults" must have our minds in the gutter more than we like. Which is of course the reason Hooters is called Hooters.

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