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Despite Cultural Conservatism, Hooters to Open in Jakarta

US-based restaurant chain Hooters will open its first Indonesian location in Kemang. But will the nation’s conservative culture let it fly?

Earlier this week, the media reported that US-based Hooters will soon open its first Indonesian location in Jakarta’s trendy Kemang district, a neighbourhood that has lots of international residents and is most likely to accept the so-called ‘breastaurant’ yep, that’s an industry term, for real. Surprisingly, Hooters did not choose tourist-laden Bali as its first location in the archipelago.

Last year, the Georgia-based chain revealed its plan to open 30 restaurants across Southeast Asia, including Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam, Hong Kong and Macau. In Jakarta, Hooters will open next to the popular bar Eastern Promise on Kemang Raya, as pre-launch signs have already indicated.  

See: Scams In The City: Transgressions Of Tolerance

While Americans usually don’t bat an eyelash when they drive by a Hooters restaurant back home, the decision to bring the chain to Indonesia is a risky play. Indonesia is home to the largest Muslim population in the world, and as such the culture is conservative in nature. Many Muslim women in Indonesia wear hijabs, and it’s somewhat rare to see locals showing a lot of skin in the light of day.

It’s fair to say that the archipelago is a world away from western countries in terms of what the local society deems appropriate. While Jakarta is much more open, diverse, and accepting, Indonesia is also the country where Sharia Law is practiced in Aceh, and people can receive corporal punishment in the form of public lashings for sexual indecency. It will be interesting to see how the market accepts Hooters’ chicken wings, and breasts.   

Will Hooters be popular in Indonesia, or will it be snuffed out?

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Leighton Cosseboom covers a variety of topics related to news, business, and technology in the region.


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