Globalization Gone Wild: Hooters Opens in China

China embraces the wings joint with scantily clad servers.

ByABC News
September 18, 2007, 8:38 PM

Sept. 19, 2007 — -- When the first Hooters location opened in Clearwater, Fla., in 1983, few could ever have predicted that more than two decades later this down-home, beer-and-wing joint with its scantily clad, well-endowed servers would grow to become a symbol of America, let alone an international sensation.

And now, with the opening of its 435th branch in Beijing, Hooters is now being touted as a barometer for globalization.

With the 2008 Summer Olympic Games just 11 months away, Beijing has set about sprucing itself up for the surge of sports fans, media and tourists refurbishing its airport, updating security systems and launching foreigner-friendly restaurants.

Once known for its ancient Forbidden City, historic Tiananmen Square and, of course, the awe-inspiring Great Wall, today's Beijing is rapidly feeling the effects of global commerce.

Although Hooters Beijing is the Alabama-based restaurant's fourth branch in China, this opening is making waves. It was one thing when the first Hooters opened in the more cosmopolitan Shanghai in 2004, but in conservative Beijing, the "Hooters Makes You Happy" mentality feels a little more out of place.

Regardless of its exotic location, walking in to Hooters Beijing feels exactly like walking into any other Hooters location. With the same wooden tables, orange hot pants on the waitresses and that same smell of fried wings wafting through the air, Hooters Beijing could easily be found in America's heartland.

While this chain may seem routine here in the United States, the Hooters phenomenon for most Chinese is a new and exciting import from the West.

"I like Hooters," said one waitress in an interview with ABC News. "It's very happy. It is enthusiastic and energetic. I love Hooters."

Like with any cross-cultural trend, some things get lost in translation, including the name's reference to the female anatomy.

In Beijing, "Hooters" simply means "owl," but that doesn't mean the point goes overlooked.