Hooters, a chain known for chicken wings and sexy waitresses in orange short-shorts, this week confirmed it would return to the island eight years after Hurricane Ike smashed to pieces its popular Seawall restaurant that operated on a pier over the Gulf of Mexico.

Hooters is in the early stages of opening a restaurant in Galveston, Mark Whittle, senior vice president of global development for Hooters of America, said.

But beyond that, officials declined to divulge details, including about where Hooters would reopen on the island. Officials declined to confirm rampant rumors that the Atlanta-based chain had chosen a highly visible building on the shores of English Bayou and on a major island gateway — the 10,000-square-foot building most recently occupied by George’s Texas Cuisine and T-Bones Sports Bar, 6028 Heards Lane, for its Galveston return. The Heards Lane building fronts 61st Street and is a high-traffic area for locals and visitors to the beaches.

Earlier this year, real estate firm Moody Rambin acquired the Heards Lane property from the estate of Bob Greig. Officials with Moody Rambin did not return phone calls.

Before George’s Texas Cuisine and T-Bones Sports Bar, which closed late last year, the building had been home to a long line of eateries, including China Border, China Island Buffet and Saka Sushi & Hibachi.

Hooters, by all accounts, was doing a brisk business at 2227 Seawall Blvd. until Hurricane Ike came along.

Hooters, which bills itself as “delightfully tacky, yet unrefined,” is the original “breastaurant,” a term coined in the 1990s about the time the chain became popular. Such restaurants are known for attractive waitresses and clever names that often serve as double entendres. Hooters refers to both its owl logo — owls, of course, hoot — and also is slang for women’s breasts.

The casual beach-themed establishments feature music, sports on large flat-screen TVs, and a menu that includes seafood, sandwiches, burgers, salads, and of course, chicken wings. “Others have arrived, departed, and even flat-out copied our formula, but we remain the genuine original,” according to the company’s website.

Hooters competitors in recent years have staked out territory around the county and Clear Lake area. Brick House Tavern + Tap already operates on the island. And there are Twin Peaks, Bone Daddy’s and Tilted Kilt, which is planning a League City restaurant in Pinnacle Park, a 100-acre mixed-use development at Interstate 45 and Big League Dreams Parkway. Meanwhile, Plano-based Tight Ends Sports Bar & Grill plans to move into the building formerly occupied by Quaker Steak & Lube, 2502 Interstate 45.

Hooters of America is an operator and franchiser of more than 430 Hooters restaurants in 28 countries. The privately held corporation owns 160 units.

Reach reporter Laura Elder at 409-683-5248 or laura.elder@galvnews.com.

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