Hooters makes its grocery debut

Retail Watch: The casual-dining chain is bringing its frozen appetizers and snacks to supermarkets, joining the ranks of restaurants taking the retail plunge.
Hooters frozen foods
Hooters is launching a line of frozen foods for retail. | Photo courtesy: Hooters

Retail Watch

If you’ve ever thought, “Man, I’d really like to enjoy some wings from Hooters, minus the Hooters Girls,” you are in luck.

The casual-dining chain known for its sports bar-breastaurant vibes just launched its first line of frozen chicken wings and popcorn chicken at more than 1,300 Publix Super Markets, with expansion planned by the end of the year.

The first batch of offerings include BBQ Smoked Wings, Dry Rub Smoked Wings, Buffalo-Style Boneless Wingz and Buffalo-Style Popcorn Chicken. Suggested retail prices of the products range from $7.49 to $8.99. (An order of eight breaded wings at the Hooters nearest me in Chicago is listed as $12.99 on the chain’s website.)

Hooters said it expects to add four more branded, licensed products to its roster in the coming months, thanks to a partnership with manufacturer Golden West Food Group.

“These items can be easily heated in home ovens or air fryers to replicate several favorite dishes of the restaurant experience,” Hooters said in a press release.

Hooters joins a long list of restaurants that have extended their brands into retail—some of which have grocery products that have long outlived the chain itself. (We’re looking at you, Chi-Chi’s.)

We wrote just last month about Wow Bao, the Chicago-based steamed bun concept that has found widespread success in supermarkets, even as it pares down its brick-and-mortar locations.

Wow Bao on Monday announced it would be bringing its frozen buns to two new grocery retailers, Meijer and Ahold Delhaize’s many banners, expanding its retail presence to more than 7,000 U.S. grocery stores. That’s up from just 350 stores at the start of 2023.

Struggling casual-dining stalwart TGI Fridays last month leveraged the strength of its frozen foods line to pay off a mountain of debt. The chain has had a licensing deal with Kraft Heinz since 2001 but this new agreement gives the food manufacturer exclusive, perpetual licensing rights to sell Fridays’ branded frozen appetizers at retail.

In exchange, TGI Fridays reportedly scored $137 million to pay off debt.

Grocery stores currently carry 25 different TGI Fridays’ appetizers, including Loaded Cheddar & Bacon Potato Skins, Spinach and Artichoke Cheese Dip, and Mozzarella Sticks with Marinara Sauce.

Whether those frozen mozzarella sticks will outlive actual TGI Fridays restaurants remains to be seen. But perpetuity is a long time.

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