Hawaii's second Hooters opens in Kona
HAWAII'S second Hooters restaurant opened for business yesterday, and more are on the way.
The 10,024-square-foot res-taurant, which includes a 6,000-square-foot oceanfront deck, is the largest Hooters ever.
Hooters of Kona, in Waterfront Row on Alii Drive, is also unique in another way.
"As far as I know there is not one ... this close to the water," said Frank Chopski, vice president of operations for Hoowaii Inc., Hawaii's Hooters franchisee.
The principals, brothers John and Robert Pardini of California, bought the Honolulu Hooters two years ago and own three others in Fresno and Sacramento, where construction of still another restaurant is under way.
The Kona space was originally a Chart House restaurant, with redwood and koa wood interior elements.
Over subsequent years and tenants, the wood was covered up -- but was revealed and restored as the space was readied for Hooters.
"It's unbelievable. This look today would have cost half-a-million dollars," Chopski said.
The company hired 40 local Hooters Girls and imported about 20 "trainers and jump starters" from corporate headquarters in Atlanta.
"A lot of them are already talking about moving here."
The restaurant is recruiting for more Hooters Girls, he said, but Chopski and others hear from purveyors such as "the beer guys," that many local women "want to wait to see what we're all about. A lot of people have never been to a Hooters before."
The Kona restaurant may bring in employees from California for tours of duty.
"It's not too difficult" to find interested staff, he chuckled.
The restaurant will seat up to 300 customers, short of its 500-person capacity, until staffing can be ramped up.
Hawaii's first Hooters opened at Aloha Tower Marketplace in November of 1994, before there were any Hooters in California.
It was built "to help sell franchises abroad, because of the tourist base that came here," Chopski said. "It's accomplished its goal."
Of more than 425 Hooters worldwide, 390 are in the United States. A Hooters will open in Seoul next week.
Meanwhile, Hoowaii is site-shopping on Maui for the third of five planned Hawaii Hooters.
Hooters acquired the lease of Kona Beach Club, which closed in July, said Gregory Ogin, leasing agent for Waterfront Row and vice president of Clark Realty Corp. commercial division.
The complex is 90 percent occupied, with two restaurant spaces available, though one is under negotiation, Ogin said.
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