Not to be topped, Hooters offers value menu

In these recessionary times, patrons of Hooters are more interested in eying their wallets than scantily clad waitresses, or so it would seem.

The Atlanta-based restaurant chain, better known for its buxom waitresses than its cuisine, is joining the gaggle of casual-dining establishments in offering a value-priced menu in the hope of drawing more... umm, clientele.

Seeing as the NFL regular season is nearly underway and testosterone is hanging heavy in the air, the new menu features a football theme, says Hooters. It's a seasonal menu for the fall.

New menu items start at $4.99 for "Loaded Chips," thick-sliced potato chips topped with bleu cheese, ranch or jalapeno cheese sauce and covered with bacon, diced tomatoes and scallions. For a buck more, you can get a "Hooterstizer Combo," which offers a trio of fried appetizers that include fried pickles. (Hey, if you can fry a zucchini, why not a pickle?)

There's also an $8.99 prime rib sandwich and Hooters chicken strip sandwich served on a ciabatta roll with fries for $6.99. For those who'd rather drink than eat, there's a build-your-own Bloody Mary menu.

But how does the new menu stack up against the competition? Segment leader Applebee's, a unit of DineEquity (DIN) that operates nearly 2,000 stores -- about four times as many as Hooters, offers a $5.95 Pick 'N Pair lunch combo (a name, by the way, which Hooters must be kicking itself for not trademarking).

Other competitors include Chili's, owned by Brinker International Inc. (EAT), which offers three courses for two people for $20, as well as Olive Garden (DRI), which offers all-you-can eat salad and bread sticks, for those prone to carb-loading, for $8.95.

Of course, none of those other chains can quite match Hooters cheerleader-esque waitstaff. And if beauty really is in the eye of the beholder, a fried pickle may be just the thing to sate that hunger.,feedConfig,entry&id=622277&pid=622276&uts=1251392169
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