According to Hulk Hogan, the world doesn’t have enough places like Hooters. The former pro wrestler and media personality is trying to change that with his latest venture, Hogan’s Beach, a bar and grill that Hogan describes as a “muscle beach Baywatch experience.” The Florida restaurant opened on New Year’s Day, an auspicious start for a brand Hogan hopes will go nationwide.
The star has lent not only his likeness to the restaurant but also his over-the-top personality. He’s described the ambiance as “Margaritaville times ten,” and his references to the eatery as a “breastaurant” suggests that Hooters also provided plenty of inspiration. It’s unabashedly loud and brash, but to Hogan’s many fans, that’s part of its charm. Not many Florida restaurants offer mechanical shark rides and beachfront dancing, but Hogan’s Beach provides both.
Hulk Hogan has been in the news lately for entirely different reasons, so starting 2013 with a restaurant opening party is good news for the former wrestler. The opening party was a crowded one; guests lined up to eat, drink and dance away the last hours of the old year. The restaurant’s menu focuses on fresh Florida seafood and high-quality beef with traditional appetizers and sides. Chef Robert Uzzillia does more than just heat foods; the Culinary Institute of America graduate has won regional awards for his creative dishes, and he promises to deliver some of that panache to the restaurant’s menu.
You won’t find corny wrestling puns at Hogan’s Beach, perhaps because of Hogan’s ill-starred first restaurant venture, Pastamania. Named after Hogan’s most avid fans, Hulkamaniacs, the menu featured more sizzle than steak with “Hulk-a-roos” and other menu items that sounded more like a tie-in for canned pasta brands than like a themed restaurant. Pastamania closed in 1995 after less than a year despite heavy promotion on World Championship Wrestling.
The reality star turned restaurateur is nearing 60 and hopes to build the location into a chain as part of his legacy as an entertainer. If his restaurant thrives, Hulkamania may become an epidemic.