- The Washington Times - Monday, February 5, 2007

TROY, Mich.

A fight to discourage Hooters from expanding in this well-to-do Detroit suburb by blocking the restaurant’s liquor license has backfired: Now there are two Hooters restaurants two miles apart.

Troy, a high-income city of 80,000 people and home to Michigan’s only Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue department stores, now has another distinction. It is the smallest nonresort city to have two Hooters.

“You come directly off the interstate and that’s the first thing you come to,” said Wade Fleming, a council member who voted in June to reject the transfer of a liquor license to the new Hooters restaurant from a rundown tavern that once operated at the same location. “That starts to define Troy, I think, and that’s not how we’d like to define Troy.”

Hooters executives want just one restaurant in Troy, but the company won’t close the old one until it’s allowed to serve alcohol at the new restaurant, which opened Jan. 29 on a larger, more visible site.

Critics are concerned that the restaurants’ scantily clad servers don’t fit the image the city seeks to project in its commercial district. Mr. Fleming said officials are trying to make the area a “world-class corridor.”

City Attorney Lori Grigg Bluhm said the number of police calls to the old Hooters entered into the decision to reject the license transfer, as did the fact that it would have left Hooters with two liquor licenses in Troy.

After Hooters was denied a liquor license, it went ahead with plans for the new location, obtaining building permits and spending about $1 million renovating what had been a dilapidated bar. Attempts to reach a compromise that would have allowed the new location to serve alcohol failed.

Sixteen dry beer taps stared back at the patrons who lined the bar last week, but manager Mark Grant said the lack of alcohol didn’t hurt opening-day business.

Hooters, an Atlanta-based chain of about 440 restaurants in 46 states and 21 countries, has run into community opposition before when opening new locations. But Mike McNeil, vice president of marketing, said he knew of no other relocation in the same city that had been so contentious.

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