Hooters Manila Opens in Mall of Asia

Last Monday, April 28, 2008 the Hooters chain opened its first Philippine outlet at the Mall of Asia (MOA ) at the edge of Manila Bay. It would be interesting to see how the purveyor of a peculiarly American concept of commercial sexuality, combining the wholesome winsomeness of the girl-next-door with the blatant sexual commercialism of an admitted fantasy flesh market, would do in a conservative Catholic country like the Philippines.

Are the girls pretty, or would it be worth going out of your way, and driving all the way to MOA, for the “Hooters experience” ? The honest answer: No.

Most of the girls are shockingly plain-looking , despite the presence of Hooters girls from all over the U.S, part of the opening team intended to jump-start the Manila operations. Hooters took pains to bring together women of Filipino origin as part of its management and service training team, possibly to attract the local market and give Pinoy males something to relate to. But it’s like bringing coals to Newcastle, to use a dated analogy. The common reaction from our group: “Huh?”

The Manila Hooters girls can most charitably be described as “exotic”.

The food was passable, the prices comparable to Friday’s or Chili’s.

The owners remain mysterious, variously said to be Japanese, Americans from Guam or scions of the Philippines’ top entrepreneurial families, take your pick.

To Hooters’ credit, they pay decent wages to their waitresses, P75.00 per hour, or approximately U.S. $ 1.50 an hour, which adds up to about U.S. $12.00 per eight hour workday, excluding tips. With tips, a friendly Hooters girl can easily earn up to U.S. $ 35.00 a day, or more than four times the minimum wage earner in the Philippines.

The best thing that can be said about Hooters is it delivers on its promise:

Delightfully Tacky, Yet Unrefined.

We ended up listening to the sentimental soundtrack of the musical “South Pacific” at a friend’s house, played on vinyl, using an old-fashioned, well-maintained turntable. Vacuum tubes too. Am I getting old or what ?

Here’s a bit of trivia: Academy-Award nominee Amy Adams , the sweet, innocent Giselle from Disney’s “Enchanted,” was once a hostess at Hooters.

Frank Rich of the NYT writes about the Broadway revival of “South Pacific” and its contemporary overtones.

15 thoughts on “Hooters Manila Opens in Mall of Asia”

  1. I was looking forward to the Hooters Manila opening as well because I wanted to try for myself what all the fuss was about those chicken wings. I must say, they are probably the lousiest chicken wings I’ve ever tasted. Super greasy! Yikes!

    And sorry to say, my maid looks better than the Hooters Girls, although to be fair, they are very nice and polite. You’re right, it isn’t worth the trip all the way to MOA. Mag-KFC hot wings nalang kayo!

  2. Yup, the Hooters menu still needs a lot of improvement. Many people are going there now out of curiosity. The Philippine market loves novelty but is also very fickle. I don’t think Hooters will last very long unless there’s a revamp of its present set-up. Thanks for dropping by, Chinita.

  3. Perhaps the best market for Hooters here in the Philippines is, ironically enough, foreigners. Those “exotic” women will be attractive to them, don’t you think? 😛

  4. Exactly, Technograph. I think they have a pretty good idea of what their main market will be, and it won’t be the locals. It’s the same situation at every Hooters outlet in Southeast Asia (like in Singapore). The Hooters girls do not fit the conventional idea of “beauty”, as defined by the standards of the place. Thanks for dropping by.

  5. im a Filipino and reaised here in US, Hooters are deffinetly one of my favorite stops for watching team sports and of course the WINGS! i travel to PI 3-4 times a year and im quite curious on how the atmosphere and appearance has pan out. i could careless about the Hooter girls as long as they have the same taste for my favorite wings! ill find that out July 8th.

  6. I believe beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Filipinos like the mestiza type so we look to hollywood beauties for inspiration. While americans and europeans venture the far east. i bet most of the persons who commented against the girls wont make my cut for a typical maganda or guapo by filipino standards. just enjoy the atmosphere. I loved the wings and can’t wait to dance again the YMCA!

  7. hopefully were ganna be there by october, i wish that they just have the same taste of wings same as hooters or wing stop here in chicago coz thats the first im going to look up too….. so girls be ready…see ya….

  8. I was in the Hooters in Singapore and was greatly disappointed there. The food was the same as in the states and tasted as good to me but the girls……..well, they were all plain. Guess what, the one cutie was a filipina from Manila. LOL By exotic do you mean “tanned”? I know that most asians perfer white skinned women while we foreigners tend to like the tanned ones better. Still though, next time I make a trip down to Manila I will give the place at least one shot while there and visiting the IMAX.

  9. Will add this to our Suds Magazine beer tour of Manila in Jan. 2010!

    We’ll be looking for great places to drink beer in Manila. Our first official trip outside North America.

  10. i went to hooters lastnight…. i was so disappointed kala ko okay hindi naman pala… nakakahiya sa mga kaibigan ko, pinagmamalaki ko pa naman and yet hindi ganun kaganda… one bottle lang kami and uwian na…

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