St. Petersburg Times
Special report
Video report
  • For their own good
    Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
  • More video reports
Multimedia report
Print Email this storyEmail story Comment Letter to the editor
Fill out this form to email this article to a friend
Your name Your email
Friend's name Friend's email
Your message
 

Hooters founders go creative with branding

By Mark Albright, Times Staff writer
Published June 17, 2007


ADVERTISEMENT

After feuding in court with their Atlanta-based franchisor Hooters of America, the chain's Clearwater founders in 1997 accepted $60-million for the rights to many uses of the Hooters brand.

But they kept some lucrative ones for themselves.

Some or all the founders have the rights to develop casinos, publish Hooters Girl calenders ($5.5-million worth this year) and wholesale Hooters foods to grocers. As owners of 22 Hooters restaurants in the Tampa Bay area, Chicago and Manhattan, they also make deals as restaurant operators.

The four remaining founders - Ed Droste, 55; Dennis Johnson, 56, Gil DiGiannantonio, 58, and Bill Ranieri, 86 - split up the work.

The pitches arrive daily. Most frequently turned down: a Hooters cruise ship, reality TV shows with Hooters Girls and sports deals like South Florida Hooter's franchisee Dave Lagschulte's with the defunct Miami Hooters Arena Football League team.

The founders are re-shaping their Hooters ventures. The $15-million-a-year frozen food and wing sauce business will add hot sauce. There are talks with a network TV production company to air Hooters Girl swimsuit pageants. Pete & Shorty's, a decade-old Clearwater tavern with bar food, is close enough to $1-million in annual sales that they plan to start selling franchises this year.

Then there's Hooters: The Movie. The founders spent $1-million on a screenplay they have coaxed Hollywood studios to produce.

The idea seizes on Hooters iconic role to Hollywood filmmakers who celebrate the sophomoric.

It's well-trod ground. Satirized by The Simpsons and South Park, Hooters restaurants were rented for scenes in Adam Sandler's Big Daddy, NBC's The Office and a deleted scene from the first Austin Powers film. Hooters also got mentions in Tank Girl, Old School, Shrek the Third and Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector.

The full-length Hooters film would be a fictional version of the founders' own story.

"It's sort of Dumb and Dumber meets American Pie, " said Ed Kiefer, chief executive of Hooters LLC.

[Last modified June 15, 2007, 19:57:30]


Share your thoughts on this story

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Subscribe to the Times
Click here for daily delivery
of the St. Petersburg Times.

Email Newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT