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Posted: Wednesday, Jun. 11, 2008

It's getting stuffy in here … A-hem. Must be uptown

Published in: Mark Washburn

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Getting a bit snooty, ain't we?

For the second time this year, the prospect of a new watering hole in uptown is being tut-tut'ed. Something about the pedigree.

Coyote Ugly, a barroom recognized for spirited conviviality, was the first to meet hostile opposition. It sought to bring its customs to stately Church Street, a one-way thoroughfare largely known for its elegant collection of historic parking garages.

Neighbors didn't want Coyote. For one thing, it posed a noise issue – revelers might even outhoot the car alarms perpetually bleating in the cavernous garages.

Plus, patrons might brawl or undertake activities in the shadows that offend civic sensibilities.

And finally, and this was what did it, it is a known fact that employees dance on the bar.

Employees of the female persuasion. Attractive, nubile female employees.

A-hem.

Now comes Hooters, wanting to cozy in at the city's center. It plans to move where The Graduate dispensed hospitality with a varsity theme.

This is being viewed with Concern.

You see, Hooters is known for its servers, generally employees of the female persuasion clad in short-shorts and tankish tops. And it could be argued that fabric is dispensed in a miserly fashion.

In other words . . . A-hem.

Let us consider the many threats Hooters poses to our orderly burg.

First: Bestial disorder. There exists the possibility that the 60-story Bank of America tower could drain entirely of accountants, commodity analysts, fund managers and others of their ilk at 5:01 any given weekday afternoon. Just imagine the inhabitants streaming across Tryon Street like the onslaught of army ants to gain prime ogling position. Next is damage to our carefully crafted tourism image. Imagine Moss and Zeke, drawn by the NASCARarama, pulling the Ford F-150 into Marriott across the street.

Moss: “Well, snap. They got Hooters.”

Zeke (brightening): “This mean we can skip the symphony?”

Last is the public health problem. So you won't have to, I have personally inspected Hooters. I walked in and, yes, I staggered out.

Clutching my heart.

They fry everything in what seems to involve seasoned motor oil. Tasty, but if you're prone to stroke, don't make a diet of it.

As to the degree of moral decadence – I can say with authority that the waitress flirted with me a bit, though this is industry protocol in any enterprise where tips are at stake and the customer looks like Jabba the Hutt. At no time was there any hint I was going to get a phone number.

Further, the outfits are no more revealing than what you'll find at a Presbyterian Youth Club car wash.

Finally, we need to ask where this all leads. We want to be a world class city? Then relax.

They're in Manhattan, in Chicago. San Diego has four. Raleigh even has one at its airport.

Do we want to become known as the city that keeps turning up its nose at clubs where women actually keep their clothes on?

Mark Washburn: 704-358-5007; mwashburn@charlotteobserver.com

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