A few months ago, while walking from the gym to my workplace, I discovered that Hooters in Ginza serves lunch specials. What’s more, at extremely reasonable prices. 800 yen for a grilled chicken lunch, eat in? That’s almost unheard of in Ginza.
So on a fine, 32 degree day at the tail end of summer, after a workout session and before heading into work, I decided to grab a bite here. For science.
What is Hooters?
For those unaware, Hooters is an American restaurant chain based on female sex appeal, and is known for having waitresses in revealing outfits. ‘Nuff said.
A Brief History of Hooters in Japan
Hooters first entered the Japan market in 2010, opening its first Japanese branch in Tokyo’s Akasaka district. It later added branches in Shinjuku, Shibuya and the upscale Ginza district.
After expanding to Osaka, Nagoya and Fukuoka prefectures, the chain boasted a total of Japanese seven branches at its peak. In 2016, sales at HJ were at its highest at 1.77 billion yen.
However, by 2018 sales had sagged to 1.51 billion yen, sending the company’s profits into the red. In March 2019, the Japan-based operator of the restaurant chain filed for bankruptcy protection, and it all went downhill from there.
The Shinjuku branch closed sometime after Shibuya fell, and in August 2020, the chain announced that Akasaka, its first branch, would close due to “various circumstances.” The coronavirus pandemic had no doubt added to the chain’s financial woes, like many in the food and beverage industry.
Ginza is now the last remaining Hooters branch in Japan.
Lunch as Hooters Ginza
When I dropped by on a sweltering afternoon in September, all the customers were, unsurprisingly, men. I say “all” like there were many, but in reality there were only two patrons when I entered. During the course of my meal, a handful of men — all solo — also wandered in.
There were two waitresses on duty that day: one Japanese, another a foreigner. Both were wearing the skimpy uniform and were polite enough.
As for the food, it was tasty and filling enough. For 800 yen, I’m not complaining.
Partway through the meal, a male scream came from the kitchen/office area at the back of the eatery. The Japanese waitress went around humorously apologizing to each table, saying it was their manager. Given her reaction, it seemed to be nothing out of the ordinary.
Like most diners, bills are settled at the table. So when I’d finished eating, I flagged one of the waitresses over. She brought the bill and drew a love heart around the amount to pay.
Then she saw me out at the entrance, but this is pretty normal for Japan.
I don’t know about the original outlets in the U.S., but Hooters Japan was just like any other good ol’ American diner chain, where you can get fusion Western food for a reasonable price. The only difference is that the waitresses are supposed to provide eye candy.
The lunch specials are actually very good value and I would like to try their burgers. But the female objectification makes me uncomfortable, so I’m not sure if I can bring myself to go there again. For American diner vibes it’s probably better go to TGIF or Hard Rock Cafe.
If you’re looking for more dining establishments in Tokyo, check out my other reviews of interesting themed cafes and restaurants in the capital!