Controversial Hooters restaurant gets the go-ahead in Salford Quays despite fierce local opposition

Politicians and campaigners had expressed fury at the idea of the restaurant opening in Salford, with the city’s mayor calling it ‘regressive’.

Controversial plans to open a Hooters restaurant and bar – where scantily-clad young women will serve customers – at Salford Quays have been given the go-ahead.

The decision flies in the face of fierce local opposition, including from both the Salford City Mayor Paul Dennett and Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham.

Trafford and Stretford MP Rebecca Long-Bailey and MP for Worsley and Eccles South Barbara Keeley were also vehemently opposed to the opening of the American chain’s outlet.

Three councillors on the licensing panel on Friday listened to arguments for and against the American chain’s application.

There were a total of 91 objections to the application, made in the name of Jullian Mills who has run the Nottingham Hooters for the last 21 years.

The restaurant and bar, at Capital Quay on Trafford Road, will open from 9am to 11.30pm seven days a week, after Mr Mills’ legal team announced the application had been scaled back from a 1am closing time.

Organisations lined up against the application included Male Allies Against Sexism, the Women’s Equality Party, Yes Matters, FiLiA, Womanchester, and GM4Women.

Meanwhile, Mr Mills was represented by barrister Duncan Craig and flanked by a number of current and former female employees of Hooters, who spoke in favour of the application.

Also present was Cheryl Kish, chief people officer for the American-based parent company HAO Brands, and Rachael Moss who will manage the soon-to-open Liverpool Hooters outlet.

Hooters restaurant. Image: Anthony92931Hooters restaurant. Image: Anthony92931
Hooters restaurant. Image: Anthony92931

Speaking directly to the panel, Ms Moss dismissed claims that the brand was “objectifying and exploiting” women.

“I am a mother with three children, two of which are small girls and a qualified barrister,” she said.

“The Hooters brand is empowering and celebrating beautiful, strong women. We thrive on making people happy and I am happy to take my children there. I am proud to be part of this venture.”

Ms Kish said she was “passionate about the platform Hooters provides for powerful women”, having been affiliated with the company since 1987.

Traditionally, Hooters waitresses wear running shorts, trainers and skimpy sleeveless tops.

Sam Johnson, from the Women’s Equality Party, said the approval of the licence was “not unexpected”.

She said: “Objecting to applications such as these is a difficult process and not a common thing. It’s not easy for people to think of how they would object.

“There are many deeply entrenched sexist stereotypes you are not going to undo at one hearing.”

Her views were echoed by Gemma Aitchison, of Yes Matters and the Greater Manchester Woman and Girls Equality Panel.

She said: “I’m not surprised by the decision because often business gets a higher priority than the safety of women and girls.

“I’m disappointed that all the things that have been said since the Sarah Everard tragedy in 2021 don’t seem to have counted. In the end, it’s just tokenism.”

The chairman of the licensing panel, Coun John Warmisham, said: “There has been considerable public interest in the application for the opening of a Hooters bar and restaurant at Salford Quays. Salford City Council’s Licensing Panel considered the application on Friday, June 10.

“Salford City Council as a licensing authority is required by law to process a premises licence application. The process is set out in legislation and government guidance with opportunities for interested parties to make representations.

“The decision to grant or refuse a premises licence application or the imposition of any conditions to a licence must be within the parameters of the licensing objectives.

“Opinion and personal choice are not relevant or legitimate reasons to refuse an application and decisions are made by the Licensing Panel after careful consideration.”

Conditions imposed say that there will be no more than two times the number of seats available to customers and no external speakers. No noise emanating from the building will be audible inside any nearby residential property, they say.

Hooters will ensure staff regularly collect litter from around the premises every day and immediately after closing time. No refuse will be collected from the premises between 10pm and 8am.

No unaccompanied children will be allowed on the premises at any time and the premises will have an “active and operational vulnerability policy”.

There will be no use of the external area for the consumption of food or drink after 10pm and the external seated areas will be cleared of customers at 10pm.

Following the decision, Mr Mills told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “My team and I are absolutely delighted to be opening in Salford Quays and working in the city. With great food, service and sports, Hooters is a restaurant for everyone. We’re all looking forward to opening the doors and welcoming you all soon.”

His lawyer Mr Craig said: “I am so pleased for Julian and his team. I have worked alongside Julian throughout this process; from the application through to last Friday’s hearing: He is a great guy and a fantastic operator.

“Julian is also held in such high regard by all his staff, as was demonstrated by the incredible women that came to the hearing to speak positively about him and their time at Hooters Restaurant in Nottingham, along with the other females that came to lend their support.

“They were the best advocates in the room.”