Popular chain restaurant opening first Hunterdon County location

RARITAN TOWNSHIP – The COVID pandemic was a tough time for chain restaurants in the Flemington area, with Applebee's, International House of Pancakes, Red Crab Juicy Seafood and Slim Chickens closing their doors.

But now another national chain is coming to the neighborhood.

Hooters, which dispelled internet rumors late last year that it was closing or rebranding, has been renovating the former Mangia Bene restaurant at the Ramada Inn on northbound Route 202-31 across the highway from Jake's, which also closed during the pandemic.

The basics

Location: 250 Route 202-31, Raritan Township, between Hart Boulevard and Commerce Street.

Expected opening: Temporary signs in the window have been up since fall 2022. A temporary banner was over the door in January. Now it's expected to open in late spring or summer.

Other Central Jersey locations: Franklin (Somerset), East Brunswick and Princeton.

Hooters is renovating the former Mangia Bene on Route 202-31 in Raritan Township.
Hooters is renovating the former Mangia Bene on Route 202-31 in Raritan Township.

What to know about Hooters

About Hooters: Hooters of America, LLC, is the franchisor and operator of more than 420 Hooters restaurants in 42 states and 29 countries.

History: Started in 1983 in Clearwater, Florida.

The menu: It's casual sports bar cuisine with one of its most popular items being wings. But on the menu are other items including salads, seafood burgers, sandwiches and tacos. A featured burger is the Home Run - four quarter-pound patties on a brioche bun, with lettuce, tomato, onions and choice of cheese.

Controversy: The chain is known for putting its female employees, who are known as "Hooters Girls," in revealing uniforms. Critics charge the chain shamelessly promotes a chauvinistic and exploitative attitude toward women.

Also see:A Costa Rican cook with a cult following just opened her first restaurant in Raritan

Rumors dispelled

The rumors: In January, USA TODAY reported that a Dec. 28 Facebook post claimed the restaurant chain was closing to rebrand to better attract millennial customers." Hooters is shutting down and 'rebranding' after new study shows that millennials 'aren't that into boobs,'" read a screenshot of a tweet in the post. The post was shared more than 50 times in seven days, while the original tweet – also posted Dec. 28 – has been retweeted more than 6,000 times.

The facts: USA TODAY fact-checked it and concluded it was false. Hooters will not be shutting down and rebranding, Stephen Brown, a spokesperson for the restaurant chain, told USA TODAY. In a Dec. 28 tweet from its verified Twitter account, Hooters refuted the claim, calling it "the fakest news that has ever newsed."

Additional info

Community: Hooters, through its annual Give A Hoot campaign, has donated more than $8.7 million to the V Foundation for Cancer Research. The foundation is named after Jimmy Valvano, the Rutgers graduate who went on to coach North Carolina State to an NCAA Basketball Championship.

Jobs: There are no employment openings listed for the coming location on the company's website.

Email: mdeak@mycentraljersey.com

Mike Deak is a reporter for mycentraljersey.com. To get unlimited access to his articles on Somerset and Hunterdon counties, please subscribe or activate your digital account.

This article originally appeared on MyCentralJersey.com: Hooters opening NJ restaurant in Raritan Township