Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016 | 2 a.m.
The Hooters Casino Hotel, a property that’s seen a lot of name changes through the years, will likely remain Hooters even after the company currently managing casino operations is replaced.
The Navegante Group took over as the licensed operator of the casino after the property went through bankruptcy in 2011 and before the current owners, Trinity Hotel Investments of New York, purchased it in 2015.
Trinity has indicated it will likely keep the Hooters brand after the new casino management company it hired, Paragon Gaming, takes over for Navegante.
In the years since the property took on the Hooters name, observers have wondered if the buxom brand, also used on 430 restaurants internationally, would help the hotel-casino, which despite its closeness to the Las Vegas Strip, hasn’t always done well.
“That property struggled for as long as i can remember,” said Anthony Lucas, professor of casino management at UNLV’s William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration. “I was at MGM when it (the MGM) first opened in 1993, which is right across the street, and at that point it was the San Rémo and it was struggling then.”
“As close to the Strip as it is, it’s still a funky spot squashed in there between the huge MGM across the street and the Tropicana right beside it,” said Anthony Curtis, author of the Las Vegas gambling and casino deal blog, the Las Vegas Advisor. “There’s not like a huge walk-in thing going on there because there’s nothing beyond it to walk to.”
Curtis said branding has been a challenge for the property since it opened as Howard Johnson in 1973, but the Hooters motif it’s had since 2006 should be a good fit.
“That thing’s gone through lot of names,” he said. “First it was the Treasury, then the 20th Century, then it was the San Rémo, and even another one in between that. It’s gone through a lot of that, but nobody's changed it since Hooters. And when you think about Hooters, you think girls so it makes sense.”
“Everybody keeps trying to figure out if the Hooters brand makes sense, and it sure seems like it ought to,” Curtis said.
Lucas said the location could find success with the Hooters brand, “I can see it as being helpful,” but only if it’s done right.
“It’s not a marquee property and not super fancy like nearby neighbors,” Lucas said. “It has to compete for a specific price point, and it has to have a pretty focused business plan and marketing plan to do that. They have to aggregate a specific clientele to do that,” Lucas said.