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Original Hooters to Close for Expansion

The Original Hooters on Gulf to Bay Boulevard is closing for construction as the restaurant expands.

Denise Williams will be there the night Hooters closes.

Williams, marketing director for the restaurant, has worked at the gray shack on Gulf to Bay Boulevard for 25 years.

The original location, which opened in 1983 and is known for its gray wooden exterior, is set to close Monday (Nov. 28) for a nearly three-month renovation. It will add more than 2,100 square feet, including more outdoor dining space and a Hooters history museum.

"It’s time," Williams said. "We have to close it down to get what we want done."

The restaurant has had some facelifts and tucks over the years, even closing for a few weeks a couple of years ago, Williams said.

The restaurant addition will be made to look like the rest of the building. Another hip roof tower that looks similar to the existing building will be added. The plan calls for adding large dining room windows and bahama shutters on the facade facing Gulf to Bay.

Behr Paints calls it Sparrow, but to most passersby it just looks like gray. The color is an important part of the Clearwater landmark and as part of the plans, the new colors will stay original. However, there will be some changes because of the addition of a light gray metal seam roof.

"That gray will stay and obviously the orange,” Williams said.

The expansion plans call for adding 2,138 square feet of dining room and bar area to the 4,996-square-foot restaurant, increasing the outdoor dining and bar area to 687 square feet.

The addition will allow for expanding the back end of the restaurant, including kitchen and staff area.

Also in the plan is a museum section that will feature keepsakes and memorabilia from Hooters' storied past.

“There are filing cabinets full of things," Williams said, “from where we started and where we are."

The restaurant opened in 1983 on Hampton Road and Gulf to Bay Boulevard. There are now nearly 500 restaurants across the world and even an airline service.

Hooters Management Corp., the original founders of Hooters, owns and operates 22 of those restaurants in the Tampa Bay area, Chicago and Manhattan.

The company is planning to open two more restaurants, including one at Clearwater Beach in April, Williams said.

The original restaurant is planned to reopen around Valentine's Day, Feb. 15.

"It's going to be really nice when it’s done,” Williams said. “For those of us that have been around forever, it’s such an emotional thing."

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