In addition to writing about wings in the 574 area, every once in a while I would like to highlight places outside of it also.
I’ll limit it to national chains or regional areas where someone from the 574 would be more likely to encounter these places when traveling, or very special places with very special wings. I won’t waste articles telling you about the horrible wings at Bob’s Wing Shack in Hoboken or anything like that.
For the first installment of one of these articles I’ve traveled to the 219 in Schererville, Ind., to eat at a place that used to be in the 574 — Hooters.
Now, I’m not going to sit here and try to defend their hiring practices or their servers’ wardrobe requirements. That’s for another blog on another website on another day.
What I will say about Hooters is that nowhere will you get better customer service from the servers. I believe it is part of their “acting role,” but they are required to be nice and friendly to you at all times, no matter the circumstances.
Nowadays when you go to a restaurant, you can often get a server who has had a bad day, is tired or is just naturally rude. It is refreshing to know that when you go into a Hooters there are servers who are glad to see you and will strike up a conversation with a smile.
They also are good with families. Even with the stigma of Hooters being a “gentleman’s bar,” the servers are always nice to everyone that walks in there and I have never seen them make anyone uncomfortable.
I used to go to the Hooters in Mishawaka often. Mostly on Sundays either after my indoor soccer games at Soccerzone, or to meet up with friends who were watching the WWF pay-per-views.
There are two things I will always remember Hooters for. First, it was the place where I watched the White Sox win the final game of the World Series back in 2005. Second, it was the place where I once ate 60 wings on an all-you-can-eat night. It’s a feat I could not replicate today or probably anytime in the future. I could sit here all day and write about stuff that happened at a Hooters, but let’s just get to the wings.
Even before I opened the menu, I could tell this was not the Hooters I remembered. The menu now has many pages and even pictures of the food. In the past, Hooters used to give you a brown piece of paper with no pictures and tongue-in-cheek food descriptions (like ordering your wings “naked” or charging $10 for a cup of coffee because “If you need to order coffee in here, you won’t know what you’re paying anyway”).
The new menu advertises “now bigger” wings and when they arrived at the table, I could see they weren’t lying. The crisp battered breading was there and they still have one of the best sauces around — very buttery with just a hint of the buffalo flavor in it.
I ordered the “hot,” but would give it a 1 out of 4 on the heat scale, as I couldn’t even sense any of the heat. But it was so good that I would not even recommend ordering anything hotter, as it may drown out the taste of the sauce.
The wings come 10 for $9.59, for a CPW of 96 cents. This may seem a little high, but it is a much better deal than it used to be. Back in the day, Hooters had the smallest wings; it was the only way I could have ever eaten 60 of them. They also had the highest prices — it was like you were paying not only for the wings, but also for the privilege of eating at a Hooters. With other sports bars catching up, it looks like Hooters has made some changes to be more competitive.
I like to say Hooters is the “Godfather of wings.” A lot of wing places today, from the large chains like B-Dubs and Beef ‘O’ Brady’s to the stand-alone sports bars like Sports Time and The Flippin’ Cow, are just a more modern version of Hooters without the tight shirts and short shorts. Those places may not even be around if Hooters had not gained so much popularity in the mid ’90s.
It is good to see that Hooters has come off its high horse in the last couple years by bringing down prices and going up with portions. Even though the wings are some of the best around, I would have never recommended the wings back when Hooters was in the 574. But with the improved wing size, if you go traveling and see a Hooters sign on the horizon, feel free to stop in and taste some of the best wings in the country.