Hooters of America LLC opened its first new restaurant prototype built from the ground up in Slidell, La., this week.

The 6,300-square-foot location now has a centrally located bar area, a “cleaner and brighter feel” and improved televisions for sports viewing, the company said in a statement.

“What’s interesting to me is the striking curb appeal,” said Dave Henninger, chief marketing officer at the Atlanta-based company. “You walk past or drive by and it is clearly a beacon in the night…it’s striking from the curb because of the windows all around the perimeter. You can see all the fun that’s being had inside.”

He added, “We want everybody to see inside, have everybody see how much fun it is.”

The new location has 55 televisions throughout the restaurant, including a 165-inch video wall that is made up of four 70-inch televisions. “You can see multiple TVs from any angle,” he said. “People come to us for sports. Sports-viewing events are some of our primary occasions.”

The centrally located bar was a key design change, Henninger said. Previously, most Hooters bars faced the kitchen and seated six to eight customers. Now, it’s designed to accommodate more customers in a more inviting atmosphere, he said.

The company also added more plush seating for booths. The idea is to accommodate different types of customers all in one restaurant: Booths for families or quieter outings, and a big bar area for Millennials and sports viewers.

“What’s great about our brand is that there’s something for everyone,” Henninger said.

The company had already launched redesigned — but not newly built — restaurants in Atlanta and Houston based on the new prototype.

About 20 more company-owned Hooters restaurants will be redesigned to match the new prototype in 2013. In 2014, the speed of renovations and rebuilds will ramp up even more, Henninger said.

“We see great returns from what we’re doing. Customers are clearly responding,” he said, adding that it isn’t yet decided if all Hooters locations will be redesigned.

Henninger declined to discuss the cost of the rebuilds, but said: “It’s not cheap, but it’s a good investment.”

Hooters has 412 locations systemwide, about 190 of which are company owned.

Contact Erin Dostal at erin.dostal@penton.com.
Follow her on Twitter: @ErinDostal