New Hooters Draws Ire of Some Downtown Fort Worth Residents

A new restaurant coming to downtown Fort Worth later this year is drawing the ire of some downtown residents.

A Hooters restaurant is set to open at 150 Throckmorton Street in late June, according to the restaurant chain. But several residents who live directly across the street are upset by their new neighbor.

The residents NBC 5 spoke with said they feel "duped" as they say the restaurant's arrival came without notice. The biggest concern is that these residents don't feel like it's the kind of restaurant, known for scantily clad waitresses, that fits in with downtown.

By that, they mean the family-friendly and professional environment they see elsewhere in the heart of downtown, especially in Sundance Square.

Linda LeRow, a downtown resident, expressed her concerns about the restaurant and who it may cater to in a phone conversation with NBC 5.

Sasha Camacho, who moved downtown from the West 7th development, says she's worried about the clientele the restaurant may attract. She says neighbors were notified too late in order to comment on the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Control license application for the restaurant.

However, no such license for the address and suite number in question can be found in the TABC's online record system. Camacho believes residents were deliberately misled about what was moving into the space.

The concern about the Hooters has taken up an online presence, with a Facebook page called "Say No to Hooters in Downtown Fort Worth." It has nearly 500 likes, but it's not clear how many of those are indeed downtown residents.

There's also a online petition which encourages those in opposition to contact Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, councilwoman Ann Zadeh, Texas Rep. Charlie Geren, Downtown Fort Worth Inc. and Spire Realty Group. It asks for 500 signatures, but based on commenters' locations, not everyone who has signed it is from the area.

Camacho, and others who've signed the online petition, says she is just as concerned with a similar restaurant that features waitresses in risqué apparel already downtown, Ojos Locos. She says she would like to see it closed down.

Downtown Fort Worth Inc. is an organization that works to improve downtown and attract businesses, visitors and residents alike. It holds no control over what businesses can and cannot move into the region. Although, DFWI does create a vision plan for what downtown should look like and helps to execute that plan.

Many petitioners who've commented online say Hooters doesn't fit that vision of downtown. DFWI has no official comment about the petition or restaurant. But does say it is a permitted use of the building.

On Thursday, the city of Fort Worth's Downtown Design Review Board is scheduled to hear a case regarding signage and a patio for the restaurant. According to the meeting's agenda, Throckmorton FW 2, LLC, which shares the same address as building owner Spire Realty Group, is the applicant for the hearing. Either a representative of that group, an architecture firm or both will appear.

Camacho and other residents opposed to the Hooters say they will appear as well to let leaders know they're not happy with the restaurant coming to downtown.

However, the board does not make decisions on a building's use. The board can only rule if the signage and patio are consistent with downtown design standards and if they have concerns for the applicant to come back to them with fixes.

Hooters of America, which is applying for the liquor license through TW Restaurant Holder LLC, responded to NBC 5's questions about neighbor concerns through two statements. Neither statement specifically answered the questions posed in an email by NBC 5.

"Hooters will invest a significant amount of time and capital into the Fort Worth location and we’re confident that our Fort Worth guests will be pleased with the our new contemporary design concept, high-quality menu offerings and warm, Hooters Girl hospitality," said Mark Whittle, senior vice president of global development at Hooters of America. "Once we officially open the doors, we invite the Fort Worth community to stop by, relax and soak up Hooters laid-back atmosphere."

“Hooters of America plans to open a brand new location in downtown Fort Worth in late June 2016," Whittle said, in another statement. "We’re pleased to provide Fort Worth with a fresh new prototype restaurant from more comfortable seating with revamped high back chairs and booths to sleek finishes and top-of-the-line AV packages designed to enhance the guest dining experience from the moment they walk through the doors. The location will also feature a centrally located bar area, offering a wider selection of cocktails and 40 draft handles, including numerous craft beers.”

One City Place is owned by Spire Realty Group, which is also a target of the petition. NBC 5 contacted the group's Dallas office. A message was left for comment, but the call was not returned as of Tuesday afternoon.

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