It was a surprise to many drivers going north on U.S. 41 over the weekend.
A bright yellow sign, painted using stencil, was posted on the old marquee board of the former Mosquito Grill & Bar restaurant at 4422 Land O’ Lakes Blvd. It seemed to confirm a longstanding rumor that the Hooters restaurant chain was opening there in 2015.
But it’s simply not true.
“Hooters does not currently have plans to open a location in Land O’ Lakes,” according to a written statement from Hooters of America LLC, given to The Laker/Lutz News Monday afternoon. However, the Atlanta-based company did use the rumor as a chance to promote its search for franchise owners throughout the nation, and maybe someday this part of Pasco County.
Hooters of America manages the largest number of Hooters restaurants in the country, while the original Hooters company in Clearwater — Hooters Inc. — controls a few dozen restaurants in the Tampa Bay area, Chicago and New York City, including Pasco’s only location in Port Richey.
Hooters Inc. handles the Tampa Bay territory, and would be responsible for the opening of any new restaurants in the area. Neil Kiefer, chief executive of the company, told The Laker/Lutz News Tuesday morning that while the sign promoting a new Hooters in Land O’ Lakes is not true now, there could come a point in the near future where one is opened.
“We have continued to look for appropriate sites for a Hooters restaurant in both Eastern Pasco and Northern Hillsborough (counties), but have yet to find a site that fits all our criteria,” Kiefer said, in an email. “We have no idea who placed the Hooters name and sign on this property, but thank you for bringing this to our attention.”
Want to learn more about this rumor, and what might be the future of this land along Bell Lake? Check out this week’s print edition of The Laker/Lutz News, hitting newsstands on Wednesday. You can read the full story now by clicking here.
This story was corrected 11/18 at 9:04 a.m., to indicate that the Bruce B. Downs Boulevard location also is controlled by Hooters Inc., and to add statement from Hooters Inc. chief executive Neil Kiefer.
Link to print edition story added 11/19 at midnight.