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US-chain Hooters eyes Cambodia

A waitress serves food at the opening of the first Hooters restaurant in Beijing in 2007
A waitress serves food at the opening of the first Hooters restaurant in Beijing in 2007. AFP

US-chain Hooters eyes Cambodia

Hot on the heels of its success in Thailand, American restaurant chain Hooters says it will expand its presence throughout Southeast Asia, including Cambodia.

Hooters, an Atlanta-based restaurant chain known largely for its chicken wings and scantily clad female waitresses, says its Thailand-based franchisee Destination Resorts Co is committing to “broad-based expansion” across Asia.

“The moment the doors opened to Hooters Phuket we realised the tremendous opportunity to greatly broaden our efforts to develop the Hooters brand across Asia,” said Gary Murray, CEO of Destination Resorts Co, in a statement.

The franchisee has its eyes on almost every ASEAN country, from Cambodia, Myanmar, and Laos to the conservative, majority-Muslim, nations of Indonesia and Malaysia.

Destination Resorts Co, which set up a Hooters in Phuket’s Patong town just under a year ago, says it will now “dedicate significant capital” to expand, beginning with Thailand and then moving on to Hong Kong and the Philippines.

But for the Hooters’ brand, success in Cambodia is far from a sure bet.

Mike Chenda Im, the owner of popular American-style burger joint Mike’s Burger House in Phnom Penh, said Cambodia’s conservative culture could prove to be a hurdle.

“Last time I heard, the wife of the prime minister was against wearing shorts, and at Hooters, they gotta wear really short shorts,” he said. “Guys are going to like that, but I think in Thailand, they’re more open.”

Ministry of Commerce spokesman Ken Ratha did not respond to a request for comment.

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