Jun 1, 2018

Hooters: Wings in bacon, salt on a napkin, a great view, a Big Daddy and a Royal Flush. But sorry, no vermouth.

Hooters at the end of Midland Street: Lots of orange
The hairy guy's report:

Reading an occasional western helps keep things in perspective.

For instance, in one of his many novels, "The Lonely Men," Louis L'Amour describes a rough bar in Tucson: "The men who hung out there were hard cases, men with the bark on, men who had been born with the bark on. There were men came into that place so rough they wore their clothes out from the inside first."

Now that's a rough bar.

The hairy guy thought of that on the year's first truly summerlike day, when he strolled into the Hooters at the end of Midland Street and noticed a balding guy at a table near the door glaring, scowling at him. 

Was it going to be one of those "Hey, I don't like your looks" deals, the male version of a bad hair day? Nah. The guy soon left. He didn't look all that rough anyway. He'll likely wear out his polyester from the outside.

Nobody else in the place looked the least rough. In fact, we apologetically concede that if you like chain bars with lots of TVs and likely the best view in town, this one is great.

And when we mention the view, we're not making a cute reference to the staff.

From across the river, on a wondrous day in town, the view of the bright orange Hooters roof stood out amid a blue river, blue sky and green grass. Crossing to the west side and heading
Part of the view from Hooters
inside the building, situated about where the long-gone Third Street Bridge came ashore, big windows gave a clear view of the water and downtown. An occasional boat cruised past. The city never looked so good. Outside, it was even better.

Really. From the vantage point of Hooters, the downtown looks thriving and inviting (except for the sore thumb of the giant decaying deck and dock at the now-vacant Black Pearl, directly across the river). The marina next door just adds to the scene. (And the nearby ice cream stand and miniature golf don't hurt.)

Sure, at least a couple three other bars -- the Sandbar on the Middlegrounds, the Riverfront Lounge in the DoubleTree hotel and Real Seafood Company -- have fine Saginaw River views. But they look out over parkland or natural greenery. The view from Hooters is of a city.

We've so far avoided writing about chain establishments, though there aren't many in town anyway. But we've long eyed the inviting Hooters' riverside seating from across the water. And as the weather at last turned warm, it was time.

The hairy guy's daughter says she once went into a Hooters and found it sadly full of single guys trying their best to flirt with the waitresses. So we were expecting that. But we didn't find it. Maybe things are different on weekend nights.

Yes, the waitstaff are attractive women with shorts and tight-fitting tops. A few menu items have vaguely suggestive names to go with the Hooters name, like the Mile High Burger (which isn't
Megan the bartender, who didn't want her picture taken
piled particularly high, so that doesn't explain it) and a drink called Rita Gone Wild (a version of a margarita that comes in three variations). But nobody we saw offered anything friendlier than the usual smile that comes from people who make a living on tips.

Harry, who has white hair and happily collects Social Security, even got politely asked for ID by a bartender named Megan. (Maybe this is a scheme to deflate flirters: If she thinks I look like a kid, I don't stand a chance, right?)

And Megan put salt on a napkin before placing a mug of beer on it. It's a simple yet appreciated trick Harry learned the first time he set out on this blog, at Bishop's in the South End.

Hooters has 20 drafts, including the classic threesome -- Bud Light, Miller Lite and Coors Light -- and sometimes-changing craft beers. A giant mug of the Bud Light, listed on the bill as a "Big Daddy" at $5.50, could be the most expensive in town. 

Oddly, despite a menu that includes all sorts of drinks (such as five varieties of Long Island iced tea), one of Harry's standard questions -- "Can I get a Manhattan?" -- was answered with a "No." Megan said they don't stock vermouth. He survived instead with a Jack Daniel's and cola ($6.79, but hey, you only live once).

Another concoction, called the Royal Flush, had a name that sounded appealing to a poker player but a sweet-sounding mix of ingredients (Crown Royal, raspberry liqueur, peach schnapps and
TVs (and bottles of high-end liquor)
cranberry juice) that weren't as appealing. Maybe another day.

The giant menu also includes an assortment of burgers ("hand crafted beef," it says, extending the meaning of "made by hand" a bit far), various kinds of wings (including bacon-wrapped wings), tacos, sandwiches, appetizers, crab legs, salads and cute little desserts.

Happy hour is 3-6 p.m. weekdays, with discounted drinks and half-off appetizers, the sign says.

Tons of TVs show sports (when we were in, one had a car restoration show) and Hooters ads. No pool or any other games. An internet jukebox is hidden amid a bunch of souvenir Hooters items for sale. The men's room is so classy that it has floor tiles on the walls.

Hooters is open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-midnight Friday and Saturday, noon to 10 p.m. Sunday.

On another sunny day, it would be a good spot to sit outside and read a book, maybe something besides a Louis L'Amour western. The scenery at that old Tucson bar wasn't nearly as good.

See Doc's report on Hooters: An owl and orange (lots of it)

  The particulars:
  966 E. Midland

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