Apr 22, 2018
The first contact I ever had with Ed Droste was when I spotted the wreck of a boat on the north side of the Courtney Campbell Causeway in Clearwater, Florida. I had seen the wreck before, but this time, someone had painted “Hooters” on the hull in bright orange paint. Hooters Restaurant – the original – had opened near the apartment in which I lived and it was already the talk of the town, thanks to its scantily clad, smart-mouthed waitresses, delicious chicken wings, ice cold beer and casual atmosphere.
That, and it’s single billboard across the street, featuring future Playboy Playmate, Lynne Austin. I was a correspondent for the St. Petersburg Times back then, a cub reporter, and I convinced my editor that we should write about these Hooters guys, of which Droste was one of the six founders. It’s a story I have gone back to again and again over the years because it’s never gotten dull. The company which passed $1 billion in revenues last year and has hundreds of restaurants in dozens of countries, will celebrate its 25th anniversary in October. And nobody understands what gets the media’s attention better than Ed Droste.