Workers Reveal What It's Really Like To Work At Hooters

Hooters restaurant originated in Clearwater, Florida in 1983 — a restaurant designed to cater to men looking for some "entertainment" from their servers. Really, according to the Hooters' own website, the original six businessmen created the concept in an effort to "open a place they couldn't get kicked out of." When you consider the time and place (Florida in the 1980s), as well as the owners' goal, you can imagine that it might be a restaurant where men could ogle pretty girls, engage in a little "extra" flirting, and do so without shame or fear of repercussion. 

Clearly, the original six businessmen weren't the only ones to appreciate the "breastaurant" concept. The restaurant grew from a single location in 1983 to 420 restaurants in 29 countries as of 2021. But even though the restaurants have a somewhat distasteful reputation — particularly in this day and age — the women and men (yes, men!) who work there tell a different story, arguing it's a fun, family-friendly work environment. So if you've considered putting in an application, but you've been nervous about trying, here's what you need to know.

You're hired as an "entertainer" not a waitress

Sure, if you're trying to work in the "front of house" at a Hooters restaurant, you'll be taking orders and serving food, but you won't be considered a waitress. Your actual title is a "Hooters Girl," and your role is that of "entertainer," not waitress. It may seem like an odd designation, but it's how the company gets around discrimination laws based on age, sex, and physical appearance. 

In a Reddit feed, a former Hooters general manager explained that the restaurant can get away with this hiring practice through a loophole known as "Bona Fide Occupational Qualification." Because they're hiring entertainers with specific qualification requirements (similar to, say, a strip club hiring dancers), if someone doesn't meet those requirements, the company can get away with not hiring them. The manager admitted that, legally, it's a somewhat "murky situation," but that usually it works in the restaurant's favor since they've built their entire concept around pretty women serving their customers.

A job at Hooters might help improve your confidence

The somewhat bad reputation Hooters has for a business model that welcomes gawking men might make a potential Hooters girl worry about how it could affect her feelings of self-worth. And certainly, this depends on the woman and the type of clientele that frequent each specific restaurant. That said, you might be surprised to learn some Hooters girls get a boost in self-confidence working at the restaurant. 

In a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" thread led by a former Hooters Girl, tinydancer929 said, "It really helped raise my confidence... I was told I was beautiful on a daily basis. If you date enough bad men, you realize how important those little compliments are." Of course, looks aren't everything, but it's always nice to know that people find you attractive. And yes, you need to counterbalance the importance of those little compliments with the potentially negative downsides, but there's no reason to assume that working at a "breastaurant" is a guaranteed way to hurt your self-worth. 

Chest size has nothing to do with hiring ... usually

Yes, Hooters is known as a "breastaurant," and the name Hooters, itself, is a euphemism for breasts, but amongst the "requirements" to become a Hooters Girl, breast size isn't one of them. In a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" with a former Hooters general manager, when someone asked if breast size was a requirement, his response was crystal clear, "Big boobs have ZERO to do with hiring. ZERO. If a girl is hot, she is hot and will be hired." He then went on to explain that oftentimes, women with smaller breasts might not apply or choose to work there because they may end up being harassed by drunk customers for not having large breasts. 

It wasn't just the manager who made this claim. In a separate Ask Me Anything with a former Hooters Girl, she confirmed the manager's assessment. "Boob size is really irrelevant during the interview. A pretty face, and slim body is more important. As well as a decent personality." 

Hooters girls face some really creepy customers

Sadly, it's true that there are a fair number of creepy customers who frequent Hooters. And of course, creepy customers who end up drinking more than their fair share of beer, are bound to become creepier. And in two separate "Ask Me Anything" Reddit threads posted by former Hooters Girls, the girls were happy to share their own bad experiences. For instance, samanthaa22 posted, "One customer I had was awful to the point where I couldn't keep it together anymore. He was pretty drunk and kept telling me he'd never let his girlfriend work here and asked me how my dad would ever let me work there. Just pretty verbally abusive and weird." So clearly in that customer's mind, it's okay for men like him to frequent the restaurant to gawk at the women, but it's not okay for a woman to work there. Right ... got it. 

Tinydancer929 had an even creepier interaction with an older customer, "One time I waited on an older gentleman who then called me all night and was waiting for me in the parking lot after work. He asked me how much it would cost for me to spend the night with him. It was horrible." 

You'll hear some interesting pick-up lines working at Hooters

While there may not be a ton of truly creepy customers, it shouldn't come as a surprise that the men who frequent Hooters really do want to be served by a pretty face and fun personality. So it's not too much more of a stretch that those same men might make a pass at their servers. Generally, the pick up lines are pretty benign — asking for a phone number, or just asking to meet up outside of the restaurant. But sometimes the pick up lines cross over into funny, creepy, or just plain weird territory. In the Reddit Ask Me Anything with a former Hooter's general manager, the man was asked for the worst pick up line he'd ever heard in his 10 years of working at the restaurant. His answer definitely fell into the creepy or weird category. "My favorite was, 'Can you play dead? Good... cuz I'm a necrophiliac.'" Yikes.

It was probably a good thing that the Hooters girl in question didn't understand what "necrophiliac" meant. 

Hooters customers generally tip pretty well

One great reason to try to land a gig as a Hooters Girl is for the tips. You're there to entertain, and the men you're serving are willing to pay a high dollar to enjoy the entertainment. This doesn't always mean you'll land a $20 tip on a $20 check, but you can expect to earn more money waiting tables at Hooters than you might at other restaurants. 

One former Hooters girl shared in her Reddit Ask Me Anything, "I definitely got tipped higher than 20% more there than any other places I've worked. I think this is partly because we were supposed to be really personable with our tables. We treated tables like we were hanging out/friends with them, not just serving them." And the former Hooters general manager shared the same, "We were in a location with a s***load of restaurants. I would go out to eat and talk with other waitresses. I would say a bartender at another full service restaurant in our general area would make what a girl on the floor did at Hooters. Our bartenders made more than me some nights. Kinda depressing." 

So for women looking to pay their bills, get through school, or build up their savings account, Hooters isn't a bad place to land a job. 

You might land some really high-dollar tips

One thing to keep in mind is that there's regular tipping, and then there's extravagant tipping. Hooters Girls can count on their regular tipping to be higher than the average waitress ... and they may even receive the occasional extravagant and unexpected tip. Former Hooters waitress Tinydancer929 shared on Reddit that her biggest tip ever was "$200 on one beer," with her highest earning day reaching almost $900. 

In the Ask Me Anything Reddit thread with a former Hooters general manager, the poster, HootsMan1 shared that tips went well beyond money itself. "I've seen older regulars pay girls' cell phone bills, car payment, rent. You name it." And he added that sometimes "tips" came in the form of payment for semi-benign requests. For instance, when he was asked if he'd ever seen anyone pay to take home a Hooters Girl's used stockings, he answered in the affirmative. "The highest I saw a guy pay was $50." 

Most Hooters managers are really respectful of the girls

You might think that in situations where a male Hooters manager is constantly surrounded by young, beautiful Hooters Girls, the relationships may get ... unpleasant. But in the Ask Me Anything Reddit threads for former Hooters Girls and a former Hooters general manager, the boss/employee relationship generally stays respectful. For instance, when tinydancer929 was asked if any of her managers acted inappropriately, she said "To be honest, very rarely. I was fortunate that most of my managers were female and respectful. They understood I was a student trying to make a living." 

LIkewise, Hooters waitress ashley1252 said, "I've had more female managers than male. But either way, all of my managers have been incredible." She added that with the way the corporation was set up, Hooters Girls were always given the option to move outside the regular chain of command if there was a problem and reach out to a regional manager if they were experiencing harassment of any kind from a manager. 

And when the former general manager was asked about an unfortunate "Undercover Boss" episode where a manager played a "game" with his Hooters Girls involving eating beans off a plate with their hands tied behind their backs, he admitted that "there was a mild s*** storm" after the episode." He said, yes, games are a part of the job — but good managers know that's taking things too far. 

Hooters managers can't be alone in the office with a Hooters girl

One rule that helps cut down on potential problems, or "he said, she said" disputes between managers and employees is the fact that managers aren't actually allowed to talk to any individual Hooters Girl in private. In the Reddit Ask Me Anything thread posted by a former Hooters general manager, when someone posted a joke about a couch in the manager's office (insinuating that the couch would likely be used for sexual reasons), HootsMan1 said, "You had to have someone else in there. Usually a manager, but even if it was just a cook or another girl." You have to assume that there were reasons such a rule got put in place, which means the Hooters corporate office isn't blind to the nature of the business. To avoid potentially dicey situations between managers and employees, rules like this are just a sound business practice for preventing harassment lawsuits.

Customers who grope a Hooters waitress can be tossed out

Yes, there are creepy customers. Customers who make comments about women's bodies, or who try to pick up a girl and take her home. Former Hooters Girl ashley1252 shared in a Reddit Ask Me Anything that she once had a customer pay her $50 for the gum she was chewing (yuck). And then continued to pay her for each subsequent piece until she accumulated a whopping $300 in gum for the night. But there is a line that customers can't cross — touching a girl without permission will result in swift removal from the premises. For instance, Reddit user samanthaa22 shared in a Reddit Ask Me Anything thread that a drunk guy grabbed her butt once. In response, she told him to "go f*** himself," and her manager backed her up, telling him to "get the f*** out." And ashley1252 confirmed that there are rules customers have to abide by saying, "There's no touching, no crude comments, and if a girl feels uncomfortable, the manager will ask the guest to leave." 

It's important to have a strong personality if you work at Hooters

Yes, looks play a role in the hiring process, but to be a successful Hooters Girl, you also have to be personable and tough. The personable part is important because you're expected to "sell yourself" to the customers as an entertainer and a "friend." The tough part is important because of the creeps and weirdos you might end up serving. And, most importantly, you have to know how to marry the personable and tough parts together, because if a man isn't doing anything outright inappropriate, but he's still edging that way, you have to be able to "manage" the situation. You want to keep him from crossing a line while still maintaining a flirty and interesting persona (you're working for tips, after all). In fact, in her Ask Me Anything Reddit thread, tinydancer929 said in one comment "personality goes a long way," and in another, "a strong personality is essential." 

The uniform rules and dress code are strict at Hooters

It might come as a bit of a surprise that uniform rules for Hooters Girls are strict.  While there might be a tiny bit of leeway on some of the rules about things like nail polish from one location to another, for the most part, a Hooter Girl's appearance is regulated from the hair to the shoes. In a Reddit Ask Me Anything thread, samanthaa22 laid out the main points, "You have to wear a nude bra, have to have your hair down, and pretty much have to wear makeup ... If you get a run in your stocking or a stain on your tank top, management makes you change ASAP." 

She went on to share her own experience when she thought she could get away with breaking a rule. "We had to wear the black uniform on Fridays, so we had to wear a black bra. I wore a leopard print bra one Friday because you can't see it under the black tank top, but some of it was peeking out from the sides. My manager called me out on it almost immediately." She also shared that she had to take out her nose piercing whenever going in for a shift. That's all to say, if you don't like following dress code rules, Hooters might not be the right job for you. 

Families are always welcome

It may seem counterintuitive given the Hooters reputation as a "breastaurant," but really, Hooters is very family-friendly. In fact, all the former Hooters employees who hosted Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) threads agreed that they loved serving families. The thing is, the food is reasonably priced and tasty, and depending on the location, some Hooters have "kids eat free" specials on certain days and times. And if you're worried about children getting the "wrong idea" about the Hooters Girls, really, the uniforms are pretty benign. While the shorts are short and tight, everything "private" stays covered up — even their feet! 

In response to a question about whether the restaurants were family-friendly, samanthaa22 responded in her AMA, "It's actually funny that you say that because people used to call all the time asking if kids were allowed. We had hula hoop competitions with kids sometimes or would color with them if it was slow. I honestly think I got asked to take a picture with people's kids the most!" So yes, don't be shy about showing up to Hooters with your kids ... and don't forget to call ahead and ask if there's a day when kids eat free. 

You can't be hired as a bartender, just a waitress

If you've ever wondered how to land a gig as a Hooters bartender, don't start searching the job ads for job postings. The only way to land a bartending gig is to be hired as a Hooters Girl waiting tables and get "promoted." But you won't get promoted by taking a bartending course or training for weeks behind the bar. No, the only way to land one of the coveted roles is to be one of the most attractive Hooters Girls at your restaurant. In his Reddit Ask Me Anything thread, HootsMan1, a former general manager, said "Bartenders were picked from the best/hottest waitresses... A bartender had to be in your top 25% of your staff looks-wise." And he added that when it came to hiring, "Hot girls were the way to go. If you gave me the option of a superb waitress who is above average looking, or a superb looking girl who is an average waitress, I'll take the superb looking girl 10 times out of 10." 

In essence, waitressing and bartending can be taught, but looks are at least, to some degree, fixed. If the goal is to sell food and drinks, and men are more likely to buy more when there are pretty girls serving them (especially pretty girls behind the bar), then you have to give the customers what they want. 

Managers can date Hooters girls, but they can't work at the same location

Even though Hooters managers aren't allowed to be in an office alone with Hooters Girls, they are allowed to date them. But the rules are strict, and if a manager doesn't follow them, they can be fired. According to former general manager, HootsMan1, in an Ask Me Anything Reddit thread, any and all relationships between managers and employees had to be reported immediately. And as a result, either the manager or the Hooters Girl would have to be re-located. They absolutely couldn't work at the same location. And according to HootsMan1, this happened "somewhat frequently," although he said he never personally dated one of his employees. 

He explained in another answer about "dipping his pen" in the company ink that he probably could have, had he wanted to. "It would have been like shooting fish in a barrel. I am not the most attractive guy, but I am in good shape and not ugly. I have seen the ugliest, fattest managers get fired for dipping their pen." 

You'll be trained on marketing yourself as a Hooters Girl

While you may not need any special skills (aside from good looks) to land a gig as a Hooters Girl, there's no denying that the company wants their wait staff to sell, sell, sell. And given that Hooters Girls are considered "entertainers," the company has a vested interest in helping the girls learn how to set themelves apart to appeal to a broad customer base. 

According to ashley1252, who hosted a Reddit Ask Me Anything thread, "We actually go through a 'renegade hospitality course' where they teach us how to market ourselves and create mutually beneficial relationships with customers. They like when we personalize our sections. They want us to make the customer's day; there are special birthday songs, bachelor songs, bad day songs." In fact, she explained that management allows them to decorate their own section with balloons, or to come up with a personalized menu. It's a little bit different than many other restaurants, but if a customer "falls in love" with a particular Hooters Girl, they'll come back over and over again, spending more money, benefiting the restaurant and the Hooters Girl, herself. 

Teenagers aren't the best customers at Hooters

As a general rule, teenagers often aren't the greatest restaurant customers. It's not their fault, really. They have the freedom to go to restaurants on their own, but they rarely have much money to spend on food, much less on tips. This means they show up, occupy a table, buy the cheapest appetizers or drinks, hang around for longer than necessary, then fail to tip appropriately. 

But at a place like Hooters, there's an added level of "bad." This is because teenage boys tend to be horndogs, which means they can be every bit as inappropriate as grown men, but with less income to make the interactions worthwhile. Former Hooters Girl and Redditor ashley1252 shared in her Reddit Ask Me Anything thread, "We all run when we see a table of teens. The typical orders will sound like, 'just a water and some fries'...'how much is a Coke?'... 'can we split this?'...'what's the cheapest thing you have?'" Essentially, it doesn't bode well for tips. The goal for these tables is to play down the "entertainment," skip the small talk, and hope to turn over the table quickly.