The pioneer of "breastaurants" wants to reinvent itself for the 21st century, and that includes a new look.
Hooters recently moved from Pointe Orlando to 8801 International Drive, and the new location showcases a new style for the restaurants. The International Drive restaurant is Florida's first newly designed Hooters.
The bar now is the restaurant's focal point. The building features high exposed ceilings and customers are surrounded by high-definition TVs. The restaurant has expansive windows and more open space. Seating includes booths and high-back chairs.
"The new restaurant layout is designed to provide a more open and contemporary feel for guests, appealing to a wide audience including women, families and group gatherings, friends looking to get together after work to watch a game, etc.," spokesman Ryan Boger said in an email.
Hooters will remodel other eateries in the same style, Boger said.
The new Hooters also has an expanded menu with more salads, sandwiches and seafood dishes.
Hooters pioneered the concept of "breastaurants," featuring attractive waitresses wearing skimpy clothing. But the Atlanta-based chain has had trouble keeping up with a new, edgier breed of those restaurants such as Tilted Kilt and Twin Peaks.
The number of locations has dwindled from 400 in 2008 to 339, including six in the Orlando area.
Exec moves to Bloomin' Brands
Darden Restaurants' Chief Development Officer Suk Singh resigned last week to take the same position at Tampa-based Bloomin' Brands, which runs chains such as Outback Steakhouse. He is being replaced by Laurie Burns, who most recently was an executive with Darden's Specialty Restaurant Group.
Thousands join Darden lawsuit
Almost 20,000 former and current Darden Restaurants workers have opted to join a federal lawsuit that alleges the company underpaid them.
That's a little less than 10 percent of the 215,000 people who were notified they could become plaintiffs.
A Darden spokesman said in an email that is "well below average for these types of collective actions." Typically, between 5 and 15 percent of potential plaintiffs in such lawsuits decide to join, said David Lichter, an attorney for the plaintiffs.
The employees are from more than 2,000 restaurants in all 50 states, Lichter said.
It is uncertain whether Red Lobster would become a separate defendant once Darden spins off the seafood chain into its own company.
Two former employees of LongHorn Steakhouse and Olive Garden originally filed the suit in 2012 in Miami, saying employees had to work off the clock. It also said Darden required servers, who often make less than minimum wage because they get tips, to perform too much non-tipped work such as rolling napkins and vacuuming.
Darden has said the claims are baseless. The company is pursuing decertification, which if granted means those employees invited to join the lawsuit would be dismissed from it.
The company revealed the number of plaintiffs in a quarterly report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission last week. Darden said in the same report that 500 people have opted to join a separate federal lawsuit filed in New York alleging the company underpaid Capital Grille workers.
That lawsuit, filed in 2011, is not affiliated with Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, which has organized other suits and federal complaints against Darden on behalf of Capital Grille employees. Darden said in SEC filings "we believe that our wage and hour policies comply with the law" and that it cannot estimate possible losses from the actions.
Made in Puerto Rico opens here
Orlando has its first Made in Puerto Rico restaurant. The small chain has two locations in Puerto Rico and hopes to expand into New York City, Chicago and Dallas.
The 10,000-square-foot Orlando restaurant opened last week at 13605 S. Apopka Vineland Road.
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