When Hooters announced it was opening a new restaurant in Kemang, Jakarta the reaction was unprecedented.
Rarely (if ever), in the history of restaurant openings has such a low key announcement received 16,000 likes, shares and comments on a social media post. The use of the word ‘breastaurant’ in the headline may have had something to do with that.
The proud owners claimed they wanted to introduce Indonesia’s first Hooters Bar as a ‘family friendly’ restaurant, which seems to miss the point entirely. Why not franchise a McDonalds or KFC instead? Nobody seemed to ask them. Maybe it was sarcasm.
However, publicity pictures and video clips of the grand opening event do seem to feature more women in hijabs than men and there was a high number of children present.
Could it be then, that the good folk of Jakarta have been told the word ‘hooters’ is American slang for owl?
When news of the opening traveled around circles of those who had actually been outside of a Muslim country to, let’s say Bangkok or Singapore for example, or had access to the internet, questions were raised about the kind of uniforms the famous Hooters Girls would be wearing in Jakarta.
There appears to have been no need for concern as modesty prevailed. In fact, a pair of burly guards are quick to intervene if there appears to be any harmless flirting between the customers and staff.
Indeed the whole experience looks more like a children’s party than is does a traditional Hooters restaurant.
Every year in Indonesia there are stories of Islamic thugs forcing the shut down of entertainment venues during the month of Ramadan. The Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) to name only one of them, claims it is ‘out of respect to fasting Muslims.’
In the past popular family businesses and frail old street vendors have been forced to close up and so it is difficult to see how Hooters in Jakarta will survive the month-long fast that begins on May 26.
Well, the restaurant has announced they will be ‘paying respects in regards to how our waitresses dress.’
It is hard to see how they can tone it down anymore than they already do, unless a full burka approach is adopted.
It is obvious to even the most casual of observers that Islam isn’t quite ready for the full Hooters experience just yet.
Winston Smith, Political Correspondent.