Although it now has more than 430 locations in 28 countries, Hooters wasn’t always welcomed by the public. In fact, when it opened in October 1983 in Clearwater, Florida, the founders of the restaurant were “quickly detained for impersonating restaurateurs,” according to the company's website. But the restaurant was able to prove it was more than just a pretty face—that it was serious about serving tasty American food and frosty brews—and its popularity exploded in the decades to follow.
Amid its beach-themed vibe and flat-screen TVs, Hooters still fuels appetites with original chicken wings, burgers, sandwiches, and fresh salads. Of course, nobody carries those casual eats and icy pitchers better than the Hooters girls. To complement their friendly smiles, their uniforms harken back to the ones the original waitresses wore in 1983: orange hot shorts and white tank tops with the emblematic owl on the front—though that owl has lost its Lionel Richie perm.
Oak Tree Lanes pulls in pin snipers with three-dozen lanes and a full slate of bowler-friendly amenities. Take aim at a clustered quarry and send your spheroid down the lane, leaving the alley's electronic scoring system to deal with the arcane rules and complex logarithms that govern the tallying of each frame. Bumpers are available to help kids and adults with childlike motor skills keep pin torpedoes on the right track, and a playroom is also on hand to cater to children (ages 2–7) too frightened by alternative footwear to take part in the lane games. Because bowling, like most rock-throwing activities, is better in the dark, Oak Tree Lanes also offers Thunder Alley, a Friday- and Saturday-night bowling experience filled with black lights, lasers, satellite radio, and fog machines, giving adults a fun alternative to conventional bowling and helping kids prepare for renting DVDs of Pink Floyd laser light shows. Oak Tree Lanes also offers weary lane warriors and pin pacifists a number of options for refueling, including a snack bar and sports bar.
A silence settles over the typically boisterous bar as eyes fixate on the TV set, where the ball hangs in midair before carrying over the fence, falling through the hoop, or landing in the arms of a receiver. Before long, the silence explodes into cheers, and glasses clink together as more rounds of beer make their way to the tables.
This is a common scene at Happy’s Grille, where sports fans of all stripes and allegiances assemble to watch games while savoring 50-cent appetizers, hearty pub sandwiches, and domestic and premium beers. The nightly crowd lingers long after the final buzzer Thursday–Sunday, when DJs spin danceable hits and live bands rile up the crowd with guitar solos, thumping bass lines, and melodic recitations of the game’s play-by-play broadcast. Open seven days a week, Happy’s Grille keeps midweek crowds entertained with live karaoke and, of course, numerous televised sporting events.
Gone are the days of lazy bar burgers built on beer-soaked buns and soups infested with over-salted peanuts. The cooks at 6740 hand-build custom creations for the people who nest in the place's cozily swiveling bar stools or seek shelter in the pub's sturdy red and gold wall seats below a soothing incandescent glow of booming jukebox tunery. Because any swimming pool needs pool toys, you can fill your stomach pool with fresh fare like garlic, thyme, and rosemary-marinated grilled herb potatoes ($5.95); signature Buffalo wings in spicy, regular, teriyaki, or barbeque sauce ($6.95 for a dozen); and 8 oz. Flatiron steak sandwiches ($10.95).
Bowlers on a quest for either recreation or league glory can soak up the retro vibe at La Habra 300 Bowl until at least midnight every night. On Friday and Saturday, cosmic effects add a festive glow to nocturnal bowling (extra fee), evoking the excitement of outer space without the danger posed by reckless spaceship drivers. The center also offers party packages that furnish groups with lane space and shoes but require partygoers to bring their own cakes.
Even in the morning, Clearman's Steak 'n Stein Inn takes its name seriously. The brunch menu lists five cuts that form the centerpiece for steak-and-egg platters, and the steak lover's omelet comes filled with three: filet mignon, new york strip steak, and rib eye. As for the "steins," drafts of Hefeweizen and Stella Artois begin pouring as soon as the restaurant opens.
Evening heralds the arrival of the restaurant's romantic side. A circular fireplace warms a ring of plush crimson benches, and soft, amber lighting illuminates the dark wood and brick interior and its stained-glass windows. An open charcoal fire roasts steaks, fish, and chicken for ample entrees, from the 16-oz. boneless rib eye to the Australian lobster tail dinner. Combination dinners allow guests to sample both steak and seafood without taking their backyard grill on a fishing trip. Supper ends with carefully hand-fired desserts, such as crème brûlée cheesecake.