It was a prank that ruffled feathers across St Neots – a sign suggesting that the town could become only the second in the country to open a branch of a controversial restaurant chain.
A plaque outside the cinema complex on Huntingdon Street – which had previously been left blank in anticipation of the announcement of the leisure site’s fourth and final tenant – now bears the logo of the American company, Hooters.
The business is renowned for its glamorous all-female serving staff – referred to on its website as the ‘beautiful Hooters girls’ – along with its sports coverage. It also advertises serving good food and cold beer, describing itself as a “special brand of food and fun”.
The only UK outlet is in Nottingham – and the company has confirmed that St Neots is not set to follow.
It seems that the sticker placed on the sign was, well, a bit of a hoot.
Julian Mills, director of UK operations, said: “I know from our books that Cambridgeshire is not somewhere we are looking at the moment. I know the ones that we are looking at and the ones that we are not – we’re definitely not looking at St Neots.”
The idea of the chain opening in St Neots provoked some concern on Facebook with people asking if the town was right for a Hooters – or ready for one – and residents asking The Hunts Post to investigate. Other were more diplomatic about the prospect.
Margaret Cooke, 66, who lives in nearby East Street, said: “I think I would be concerned more for the young people that are around here. Having said that, I suppose there would be an element of people in all towns that would find it acceptable.”
John Davies, chairman of St Neots Town Initiative, added: “We certainly welcome variety in the town and I’m sure my fellow townsmen are broad-minded. I have certainly got no objection to it but it seems a rather strange way to approach retail.”
Hooters was set up in 1983 by six businessmen who opened the first restaurant in Clearwater, Florida. Since then, it has grown into an international brand with restaurants, a casino, calendar and magazine.