Against a backdrop of orange air ducts, signs reading, “CAUTION: Blondes Thinking,” and a blitz of sports-showing flat-screen television monitors, a diverse dinnertime crowd gathered at 3050 Stockyard Road for the apotheosized opening of Montana’s first Hooters.
Complete with an autographed T-shirt, flushed cheeks and a near-empty vodka and Red Bull, Missoula native and Hooters virgin Charles Olsen admitted that his manly curiosities got the best of him.
“Originally, I liked the thought of the hooters,” said Olsen, apparently focusing on both the restaurant and its main attraction. “Now, it’s the beauty of hooters.”
Olsen’s only complaint—albeit a minor one—was the restaurant’s strict three-drink limit. After three cocktails, servers clad in neon orange bootie shorts, ’80s-style socks scrunched around their ankles, nylons and the signature Hooters tank tops are instructed to bring customers a glass of water and judge whether more alcohol should be allowed.
But the food and drink were secondary concerns to most customers at Monday’s grand opening. Instead, all eyes of the doting spouses, young families, senior citizens and the expected bachelor crowd in attendance seemed fixated on taking in the grander, um, atmosphere.
According to server Sherry Winchell, the restaurant’s personalized service and customer interaction is part of a carefully watched overall presentation. Winchell says Hooters girls must undergo uniform checks prior to the start of their shifts and tattoos must be hidden at all times. Maintaining a monochromatic natural hair color is also one of many dress code requirements, that servers can be reprimanded for revealing too much skin or cleavage.
“I expected it to be a real cheerleader establishment,” Winchell said. “But all the girls are really nice—it’s just fun.”