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Tourism

Hooters in Hong Kong bounces back after paying over HK$1 million in overdue rent

Chain’s Asia president says all its outstanding debt has been settled

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 September, 2017, 5:45pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 September, 2017, 11:07pm

Hooters has paid off over HK$1 million in overdue rent, quashing fears the restaurant chain famous for hot girls and cold beer was about to go bust in Hong Kong, according to management.

Earlier this month, the US brand faced legal action and eviction from its Lan Kwai Fong location after failing to pay almost HK$1.13 million in rent – around three months’ worth.

But Hooters Asia president Daniel Yong put the fears to rest on Wednesday, telling the Post the company had paid off all its outstanding debt the day before.

Lawyers for the landlord, property company Dor Fook Company Limited, filed a writ on September 8, giving the company until this Friday to respond to its request for unpaid rent.

A source close to the company confirmed the money had been paid. Yu, Tsang and Loong, the law firm handling the writ on the landlord’s behalf, said it could not comment.

Yong flew from his home in Singapore to Hong Kong on Wednesday morning, seeking to reassure staff that the restaurant was going to remain open.

I don’t think the current staff are concerned, they haven’t bailed on me yet
Hooters Asia president Daniel Yong

“I don’t think the current staff are concerned, they haven’t bailed on me yet,” Yong said, adding that employees who had left under the old management had recently asked to come back.

He claimed customer volume had increased since the problems with the venue became public. He expected the Hong Kong outlet to turn a profit in September, which would be the first time since it opened in July last year.

Yong still planned to open four more Hooters venues around the city, adding: “I plan to open as many as humanly possible.”

The problems stemmed from past management, he claimed, with the business in a “bit of a mess”. Yong took over two months ago.

He said he would be returning to the outlet every two weeks to make sure “all the paper work is in place and no one is hiding anything”.

Yong said the writ last week had “surprised” him as he had been discussing with the landlord paying the rent back.

“I think relationships down the road will be patched,” he added.

“I think it’s going to be fine. I don’t see major issues moving forward.”

Yong planned to enlist the waitresses more to advertise the venue, and had no intention of changing their outfits, which had attracted criticism in the past.

“I don’t think it [the business’ problem] is anything to do with the outfits.”

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Hooters signed a 10-year lease in April last year for its Wyndham Street venue, agreeing to pay HK$330,000 per month for the first year, according to the writ.

There was limited reaction to the legal action on Hooters’ Facebook page, with only a handful of users questioning whether the restaurant was closing.

Hooters has more than 430 restaurants in 28 countries, according to the Singapore Hooters website.