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The Hooters of Renton even has a bowling alley, the first one
Hooters is known for certain things. A bowling alley is not one of them.
That's going to change when a new Hooters restaurant opens in Renton next week on Benson Hill.
Joining Hooters of Renton are the holdovers from the days when the space was home to a restaurant, a casino – and the Cascade Lanes – on 116th Avenue Southeast at the Cascade Shopping Center. In most respects, what's offered inside won't change, at least broadly.
Devotees of Hooters know about their all-American food, including those chicken wings. Other Hooters have casinos and arcades, just no bowling alleys.
But, let's be frank.
"The Hooters girl is the core of everything that is going on here," said Mike Strong, the general manager of the new Hooters of Renton.
The owner of the Hooters franchise is working feverishly to finish a $1.3 million remodel of the roughly 29,000-square-foot space. The public grand opening is Tuesday, Oct. 27, but VIPs will get a sneak peek the day before at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Before then, the Cascade Lanes sign will disappear, replaced by one proclaiming Hooters of Renton.
The Renton Hooters is the second Hooters to open in the Seattle area in recent weeks. The Hooters South Park Casino and Dueling Piano Bar opened in Seattle's South Park neighborhood.
The vision for the Renton Hooters is no less than to create "the ultimate Hooters fun center," said Strong, one that attracts all ages, including kids.
"We want to be a friendly family destination," said Strong. "We want to set ourselves apart from everyone else."
The place won't look much like the former Cascade Lanes lounge and bowling alley. Gone are the 1960s-era plastic chairs, said Strong. But in a tribute to the past, the new owner is using the former flooring from the bowling alley to cover the counter for the bowling alley and a separate one for the lounge.
The restaurant, which serves casual American fare, can seat up to 250 people; the lounge is just behind the refurbished 24-lane bowling alley. Near the restaurant is the casino.
Hooters already has leagues for the bowling alley. Jeanne Murphy, who worked for Cascade Lanes, will manage the bowling alley and the leagues that have signed up. Bowling tournaments are planned, too.
The arcade with its video games is on the far side from the lounge and casino. Near that entrance is a party room for use by adults and children.
The Hooters girls will roam throughout, a part of the Hooters fun experience.
News that Hooters was planning to locate in the struggling shopping center was met by skepticism by some nearby residents and beyond. Hooters is image-based – those athletically attired Hooters girls – but some still worried about what might be described as a moral decline in the area.
But Strong said he's seeing the community is embracing Hooters and the potential for Hooters' customers and employees to do businesses elsewhere in the shopping center. Hooters has joined the Renton Chamber of Commerce and participated in the recent Business Expo at the Piazza in downtown Renton.
Strong said the company has had a chance "to clarify every aspect of what we are offering."
Strong describes the Hooters girls attire as the all-American cheerleader. They wear the standard Hooters orange and white attire: orange shorts and a white tank top, short sleeve or long sleeve T-shirt. Pantyhose and bras are required.
The girls often find Hooters employment a stepping stone to other image jobs, including modeling, Strong said.
Hooters of Renton will need 60 to 70 Hooters girls to cover each shift with from 12 to 20 girls. Minimum age is 18 years old and the girls often range in age up to the late 30s, Strong said.
Hooters still needs more girls to staff its shifts, Strong said. The business is hiring locally. Experienced casino dealers are also needed.
The former employees of the Cascade Lanes were given equal opportunity to get hired again, Strong said.
Strong isn't shy about making a few promises about what customers will find when the doors open – a festive environment where "you can check your problems at the door."
"Every guest feels like they are part of the show," he said.