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Hooters of America to open Israel restaurants

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

ATLANTA -- Hooters, the restaurant chain known for its tasty wings and scantily clad servers, is heading to Israel. Atlanta-based Hooters of America Inc. said in a statement Monday that it has reached a franchise deal with llana and Ofer Ahiraz to open the first Hooters restaurant this year in Israel, with several more locations in Israel to follow.

The first location will be in Tel Aviv, Hooters spokesman Mike McNeil said Tuesday. The franchisees are from Israel. Eventually, other parts of the country may be considered for locations, but there have been no formal decisions about where, McNeil said.

"For the most part, it will be identical to what you're going to see in the United States -- the same uniform for the girls, chicken wings and burgers," he said.

He said he wasn't sure if kosher fare would be offered, but he said Hooters would be open to the idea if that was requested. There may be some variations in the menu based on food availability and local tastes, McNeil said.

Asked about any religious concerns about Hooters opening in Israel, McNeil said, "We're not aware of any concerns at this point."

There are over 430 Hooters Restaurants in the United States and 23 other countries, including China, Australia, Switzerland and Brazil.

The chain plans to expand over the next two years to Colombia, Dubai, Guam, New Zealand and India.

The chain said international expansion is a key focus for the company.

Hooters, a privately held company started in 1983, is known for its spicy chicken wings and the women who serve them, which the chain refers to as "Hooters Girls."

Besides their revealing attire of low-cut, tight tank tops and short orange shorts circa the 1980s, the waitresses are known for their playful banter and friendly smiles.

The chain has about $900 million in yearly sales and is expected to cross the $1 billion mark for the first time this year.


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