Fans camp on Hooters doorstep

Blake Ayo, left,  and Justin Brown huddle inside their tent while waiting for the opening of Hooters in Grand Junction. The two Grand Junction residents were first in line and arrived a 2:00 AM.



Hooters wait staff Natalie Levesque takes an order from Karen Mitchell, And Dave and Tashia Brown at the opening of the new Hooters on North Avenue.



Natalie Levesque is excited to be working as a Hooters girl at the new restaurant on North Avenue, which opened to a crowd of people Monday morning.

Levesque said the prerequisites for the job, as she understood them, were a great personality, a little dancing talent and “of course a nice physique.”

She and the other servers have been training for a week, learning the serving ropes as well as dance steps such as the Cupid Shuffle and routines to songs by Michael Jackson and AC/DC.

“It’s just really fun here,” she said of the restaurant chain renowned for its chicken wings and deep-fried pickles, as well as other off-menu assets.

This is the eighth Hooters restaurant to open in Colorado.

“We’re just excited to be here in Grand Junction,” said Claire Schmalstieg, regional manager for Hooters in Colorado.

Hooters is a national chain, and the first restaurant opened in Clearwater, Fla., in 1983. The company is known for its sponsorship of major sporting events and prides itself on being “delightfully tacky, yet unrefined.”

There are more than 450 restaurants in 43 states and 26 countries.

Scores of people braved freezing temperatures Monday morning to be among the first inside the new restaurant, as the first 100 patrons received not only free wings on opening day, but also free wings on the first Tuesday of each month for the next year.

Brad, Angie and Justin Brown were among the first in line, arriving at 2 a.m.

“We thought there would be a big turnout and it would be something fun to do,” Brad Brown said.

Soon after they arrived, they met Blake Ayo, who put up a tent to wait out the night.

The line grew with the morning light. Some brought beer and others hot chocolate.

By 8 a.m., the line stretched off the sidewalk and into the parking lot.

Specific anticipations ranged among the crowd — from trying some of the popular Hooters dishes such as raw oysters-on-the-half-shell to getting some face time with the famed servers.

“They look good,” said Sean Rogers, No. 26 on the entry list. He and his friends were enjoying appetizers and collecting autographs from the waitresses, who are known for filling out their orange, Daisy Duke-style shorts and tight, low-cut, Hooters T-shirts.

“Seriously, the food’s good and they’re friendly,” said his friend, Henry Vega, laughing.

Monday was the first time Daniel Pineda had ever eaten at a Hooters restaurant. He was surprised at how quick the service was, despite the large crowd. “Even the manager came by to check on us,” he said.

“It was fun and it was worth it,” said Annie Caskey, who waited in line for more than three hours just to try the famous hot wings, about which her husband, Travis, raved.

Other opening-day events included the Mesa State Wing Bowl, a wing-eating competition among members of the football, softball and baseball teams. There were prizes, T-shirt giveaways and games, such as, “Are you smarter than a Hooters girl?”

The restaurant is at 2880 North Ave. and will be open seven days a week. Takeout is available by calling 242-2143.


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