NEW YORK – The servers at Hooters are trading in their signature orange shorts for sizzling swimsuits.
The American restaurant chain is inviting guests to purchase a 2020 Hooters Calendar in support of Operation Calendar Drop. Hooters will collect and ship the calendars to active-duty personnel deployed in the United States and around the world.
According to Hooters, more than 100,000 calendars have been distributed to troops worldwide since 2013. And since the Clearwater, Fla., location opened in 1983, the company has supported veterans, servicemen and servicewomen, raising thousands of dollars for non-profit military organizations.
Hooters is encouraging customers to walk into any restaurant, where they can buy a calendar for the troops and insert a personalized message. The women will send off the special delivery in time for the holiday season.
Briana Smith, who was crowned Miss Hooters International at the 23rd Annual Hooters International Pageant at Lake Tahoe in April of this year, told Fox News the photoshoot hit close to home.
“My mom got diagnosed with breast cancer,” she explained. “She was a survivor and then she got it again, so she had her double mastectomy and she’s going through her chemo treatments. So when I got [my photos], I was in a pink swimsuit and at the bottom, it said, ‘Support breast cancer.’… I was so shocked… It was just a moment I will never forget.”
And Smith was eager to give back to our troops. In fact, she revealed her father is a proud veteran. Smith, along with the other pinups chosen this year, did just that by assembling care packages for the armed forces, which features the 2020 calendar, along with a personal note thanking our troops overseas.
“When you’re signing the calendar you wish you knew who would be opening the boxes,” said Francheska Kubacki, Miss Hooters New York City. “I was like, ‘I wish I could get in the box so I can hug them when they get the box.’ We never get to find out. [But] a few months after that someone actually came into our store and they wanted to know who was in charge of [Operation Calendar Drop] because they actually received the package and they had the calendar with them that day and everything. So it means a lot.”
Smith shared posing for cameras to create the calendars meant more than just a chance to be in the spotlight.
“[One time] we were doing care packages and [some of the veterans] came down and helped us,” Smith recalled. “They really just let us know how appreciative they were about this… They’ll tell us, ‘You should see the faces when they open the box. They have no idea what’s in it… We volunteer at the veterans’ base camp where we give out wings and go talk to them. We take pictures with them. There’s so much that we do. It’s hard to really just put it all in words.”
Somer Bishop, featured as Miss January, said she was looking forward to creating care packages for the first time.
“I haven’t made a care package personally yet, but… I’m very excited,” she said. “I’m glad that we get to impact people overseas like that.”
The women also shared they felt empowered when it came time to shooting the 2020 calendar. In fact, they insisted everyone was given the option to select their own swimsuits to ensure they felt completely at ease on set.
“The girls are always there to help us pose if you get nervous,” said Smith.
“You can wear a one-piece if you want,” chimed Kubacki. “Whatever you want, they have options for you. And there are five different photographers… And all those girls shooting together, the top 80 Hooters girls from all over the country… We’ll be like, ‘No don’t wear that one, wear that one. No, that one would look better on you.’ It’s just a lot of fun.”
Both Smith and Kubacki are aware some critics have slammed Hooters over the years, insisting the chain objectifies its waitresses. However, the women simply don’t give a hoot.
“We are part of a multibillion-dollar company; we are the faces of it,” Smith explained. “With Hooters, I’m able to say, with my modeling career, that I am an internationally published cover girl in six different countries. We do a lot of philanthropic work… We’ve raised $63G for Self-Help International, a foundation we work with. They actually go to South Africa and teach women entrepreneurs… We’ve raised over $5 million in the past 12 years for breast cancer… I just feel empowered.”
“I would say the only way I’ve ever felt exploited at Hooters would be with the opportunities that I’ve been given throughout the last five years,” said Kubacki. “… It’s more like a family. People who feel that way are more than welcomed to come to any of our stores. If they sit down with us, they will see that the environment is not as they perceived it.”
The ladies shared Hooters also attracts plenty of unique customers who easily make unforgettable first impressions.
“I’ve had an opera guy,” said Smith. “He comes in a lot… He’ll sing to us and we will have some wine.”
“We have a guy at our store, he comes in every Sunday for football Sunday and he does a lot of bets,” said Kubacki. “So he’ll just sit on the bar with all his papers and looking at all the TVs. It’s really good to see him in the sports spirits because he’ll be there all day watching the games. He’s so into it that he made me want to get into football as well.”
When the ladies aren’t traveling across the country to support the military or work with a different charity, they’re working the tables at their restaurants where they’re eager to meet a new regular.
“I was never aware of all the opportunities that were there until I started working,” said Bishop. “Once I joined, it was like a sisterhood ever since.”