To call Greg Peck’s fascination with Hooters an obsession would be incorrect; it’s more like a passion, according to the resident of Streator, IL.
But to hear his wife, Phyllis, talk about the 47-year-old’s infatuation with all things Hooters, one might get the idea that on occasion his passion veers into a full-blown obsession.
”Everywhere this man goes, there has to be a Hooters,” she said from a booth at the in Clearwater on Valentine’s Day. “I have curbed it at some points because, after all, there are other things in life.”
Greg Peck, who travels around the world as a manager for a nuclear power security company, doesn’t allow his passion to rule his life. But he has taken his hobby to a level many others would not.
Take, for instance, his basement.
When he purchased his home in Streator roughly 10 years ago, he did so with the idea that the basement would serve as a de facto Hooters museum, filled with memorabilia from his many trips to the iconic restaurants.
“It took me about three months to complete it,” Greg says of the knotty pine palace, which is stocked full of Hooters-related items such as an orange-felt pool table, a Hooters-themed hood from a NASCAR stock car, Hooters barstools and other assorted knickknacks.
“It’s all authentic, too," he says. "I got actual measurements of the bar and barstool height from Hooters managers, and many of the items are from the restaurants.”
"They'll pull stuff right off the walls for you if you offer enough money," he said.
So how exactly did this passion project start?
According to Phyllis, her husband’s love of Hooters began long before they got married six years ago (they honeymooned — where else? — at the Hooters Casino in Las Vegas). He says it began with trips with his buddies to the franchise’s location in Bloomington, IL, which is an hour south of Streator, about a decade ago.
Soon enough, what started as a couple of guys' nights to the nearest spot turned into a cross-country tour of nearly 100 different Hooters restaurants, from Long Beach to Las Vegas to Memphis and now .
“It has always been No. 1 on my bucket list,” Greg said of a pilgrimage to the place that spawned a global phenomenon. “I tried to get here before the old building closed … and when I that they tore it down, I was bummed.”
But no matter when it started or how long it lasts, there’s no doubt that what started as a solo mission has now turned into a tandem tour.
“I try to be supportive of it all, but I also try to keep it in perspective,” Phyllis said. “Family has to come first; it has to be balanced. So we compromise.”
And how does she feel about spending Valentine’s Day at the Original Hooters?
“I guess it was meant to be.”