It was underwhelming, though. The place was packed out as it was opening week, and it is well located opposite a huge music venue and near a big shopping centre, and it's generally much more central than the Bristol or Nottingham branches are.
But there were no whooping cheers greeting anyone as we went in. The queue was out of the door, so surely the staff should have been hyped at their popularity? Instead, the gangs of young men in tight t-shirts and no coats were looking lost and baffled as they hung around the doorway in an unorganised fashion (as the door host wasn't organising anyone to keep them out of the way), and it was 15 minutes before we were begrudgingly seated.
We asked for a drinks menu, and were brought a tatty piece of white A4 paper on which someone had hurriedly typed a few expensive drinks prices. No expense spared on the menu - which was surprising considering the charges asked for average quality drinks. We did look at the food menu, but lost our appetite upon seeing the bare female bottoms and warning signs about putting on weight next to the solitary pudding. Hmm.
After another 15 minutes, still no one had come to take our order so we got up and walked out. No one asked us why. But in our dreary 30 minutes in the company of Cardiff Hooters we observed several things:
- No one looked very happy. The staff looked visibly harried and stressed. The customers looked a bit baffled and bemused. They weren't having as good a time as Hooters' publicity machine kept telling them they ought to be. 'Hooters makes you happy' scream the signs. There was little evidence of it from the staff or customers though.
- Hardly anyone had any food in front of them. Which seemed odd, as I'd been led to believe this was a restaurant rather than a bar. Maybe service was just incredibly slow, or maybe the boys had only come to look at the grumpy girls...?
- The wealth of sexist merchandise was suffocating. From nudie playing cards to bumper stickers saying 'My other girlfriend is a Hooters girl', to the obligatory bikini calendar. Yuk. It's all very visible and displayed next to the door for you to browse while you wait (endlessly) for a table. Not at all suitable for families.
- Fortunately, we didn't see any families here. Not one. Which is odd, as I thought Hooters was as family-friendly as Frankie & Benny's or TGI's... like heck it is.
- The ladies' toilets had no paper in the dispensers, which wasn't good enough at only 8pm. Especially considering that (despite the 99% female staff), the customers were about 5% female, so there can't have been high demand for them. The toilets were also in a bad state of cleanliness. There was scrunched up old toilet paper on the floor of the cubicles, and there were lipstick-marked and dirty tissues scattered around the sinks. Deeply unpleasant.
- Also, the ladies' toilets are situated right next to the kitchen, so all you can hear is the shouting and clattering from the kitchen staff while you are in there. Also unpleasant. And it felt unhygienic having a toilet so close to the kitchen.
- We also observed there were no door staff, as in bouncers or security, at all. Surely this was one of the licensing conditions? It certainly was in Bristol. (The guy in the photo above is a potential customer having a ciggie).