An administrative law judge has ruled that Hooters should be issued liquor permits for its planned location on Throckmorton Street in downtown Fort Worth.
The ruling comes after pleas from nearby residents and downtown officials, who asked that the permits not be issued because the restaurant would be too noisy, cause an increase in crime and would be inappropriate for the area partly due to the skimpy uniforms worn by its waitresses.
A hearing was held in August by the State Office of Administrative Hearings at the request of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission after the protest was filed against the Hooters permit application.
In a 63-page opinion issued last Wednesday, Judge Robert F. Jones Jr. said the Hooters restaurant will be in an area designated by the city for liquor permits and is properly zoned. He also wrote that he found no evidence that the Hooters waitress uniform “violates the public sense of decency.”
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A preponderance of the evidence demonstrates that the proposed location is in compliance with all applicable Fort Worth ordinances. The record does not demonstrate, by a preponderance of the evidence, any unusual conditions or situation requiring denial of the [Hooters] requested permits.
Robert F. Jones Jr., state Administrative Court judge
“A preponderance of the evidence demonstrates that the proposed location is in compliance with all applicable Fort Worth ordinances,” Jones said.
Jones said the restaurant chain should be issued its mixed-beverage permit and a permit to serve liquor during late hours.
Mark Whittle, Hooters senior vice president of development, said the company is pleased with the ruling but will wait to start construction until the license is “in hand.”
“We’re very happy that we should have the opportunity here in a few weeks to start on the restaurant,” Whittle said.
The group that protested the license has 15 days to file an appeal with the judge. Attorneys for the protesting group did not respond to a request for comment.
Hooters has been planning the downtown restaurant, at 150 Throckmorton in the City Place office towers, for more than a year. It had hoped to have the restaurant open this past June.
Earlier this year, the restaurant won permission from the Downtown Design Review Board to include a patio. It obtained building permits from Fort Worth in June and plans to spend about $1 million on construction, Whittle said.
Some residents in Sundance West, an apartment building across Throckmorton at Second Street, opposed the location. And Johnny Campbell, president and CEO of Sundance Square, told the judge that Hooters was not compatible with the residential neighborhood near Throckmorton.
Jones noted that nearby restaurants, including the adjacent Wild Salsa, were issued liquor permits and that the “Hooters Girl uniform is at least as decorous as the clothing displayed at Flying Saucer,” a Sundance Square restaurant and bar.