CRESTVIEW — Today, Tanya Rivera is a reserved, smartly dressed 34-year-old real estate agent. Earlier in life, she was a Hooters Girl.
“I didn’t apply; they asked me to apply,” she said.
When she was just 17 years old, Rivera’s future sister-in-law asked her if she would be interested in the job.
“Well, she wasn’t my sister-in-law then, but the manager had her go to me and ask me to apply to Hooters," Rivera said.
Rivera met both of her husbands at Hooters. Her first husband, and recruiter — now deceased — was a chef at Hooters. Her second husband, Humberto Rivera, was a customer who roomed with three Hooters Girls, her co-workers at the time.
“When I came to Crestview’s Hooters in 2007, the people I worked with said, ‘we are going to hook you up with somebody’ and they ended up hooking me up with him,” she said. “They kept trying to get me over to his table and would call me and say, ‘Hey, can you come talk to this table?’”
Rivera was looking for a husband when she worked at Hooters and said other Hooters girls were looking to get hitched as well, although some of them were simply putting themselves through college.
“I watched one girl become a doctor by paying her way through college and some of the girls are still finding themselves,” she said. “But even with a college education, some can’t find a job that pays as much as Hooters does.”
According to a recent report by the National Partnership of Women and Families, women in Florida make 85 cents to the dollar of a man.
It doesn’t change with education, either — women with master’s degrees employed in full-time positions make 72 cents for every dollar paid to men with master’s degrees and women with PhDs make even less than men with master’s degrees, according to the report.
Rivera said the Hooters company doesn’t judge and even though the name may imply it, attitude trumps Double D’s any day in the application process.
“As a former manager, we are looking for that All-American cheerleader look. Someone who takes good care of themselves, does their hair, their makeup and when they are applying, they are excited to work for Hooters,” she said.
And even though some promotional materials for Hooters are laden with windblown blondes in bright orange, size 2 hot pants and white tank tops with their signature gawking owl, Rivera says that even overweight women who aspire to be a Hooters Girl stand a chance.
“You can’t sit there and say they can’t be thick because there are plenty of girls who worked there who were thick, but they were still beautiful," Rivera said.
She added, “It doesn’t have to be a certain size, but a certain fit that looks like what Hooters is looking for.”
You don’t have to be conventionally pretty, either; even so-called “ugly” girls have a shot at donning those crunchy white socks and tan nylons as long as they put some effort into keeping up appearances.
“As long as they had that personality and put work into themselves, that’s what Hooters is looking for,” Rivera said.
Rivera added that it wasn't just the revolving door of doting, good looking women that turned customers to regulars at Crestview’s Hooters, even for the single men who dined there.
“A lot of single guys go there because they can sit there and have conversations with these girls that they wouldn’t have outside,” she said. “It’s about the service. These girls go out of their way to make sure you have everything you need when you come to dinner.
"They make sure you are taken care of, that your drink is full. They go above and beyond what any typical restaurant does."
“So at Hooters you are getting attractive girls, food that is decent and service that is amazing — and, I’m sorry, but that service is hard to find in Crestview.”