Only a year after opening its doors, the Bristol branch of the US restaurant chain Hooters has announced that they are shutting down. The chain, famed for employing good looking and skimpily-dressed waitresses, has always caused controversy amongst feminist groups, who accuse them of “serving up women as sexual commodities”.
A notice at the front door of the restaurant yesterday said it had closed down as it emerged that the closure had is due to a lack of trade, mounting debts and a long-running legal dispute with another company. Around 39 full and part-time staff have now been made redundant. Apparently Gallus Management Company Ltd, which ran Bristol Hooters, is going into liquidation and has ceased trading. A Gallas Management Company spokesman said:
"The business had never achieved its turnover targets, and in addition had lost a considerable sum following a dispute with contractors engaged to refurbish adjacent premises. Those contractors subsequently entered administration."
The closure generated a wave of celebration amongst the city's feminist groups and representatives of the feminist cause. The Bristol Fawcett society said that the failure of a business and job losses should "never be a cause for celebration", but said the venue was “outdated” and had “no place in any modern city that values equality”.
Blogger Sian Norris wrote that Hooters “contributed to the normalisation of the sexual objectification of women on our high street”:
“From its sexist and degrading imagery and language to its uniforms, signage and bikini contests, Hooters normalised a culture that values women as only and always sex objects. We argued that an establishment that seeks to make profit from sexism in this way had no place in a forward thinking and equal opportunity minded city like Bristol. We are pleased to see that Bristol agreed with us. The fact that Hooters has now closed shows that its presence was not welcome in our city. Potential patrons of the restaurant voted with their feet. We are of course sorry that its closure has resulted in women and men losing their jobs. However we hope that the premises are quickly filled, and new job opportunities created, by a company that doesn’t seek to treat women as sex objects. We look forward to celebrating the opening of a new harbourside restaurant soon, one that fits our vision for an equal and forward thinking Bristol.”
Green Party councillor Gus Hoyt added that the venue had “infringed” its licence on a number of occasions and also welcomed its closure:
“This is fantastic news. Many campaigners have united to close this joint – a sexual bar masquerading as a family friendly restaurant. It’s a real David and Goliath success."