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April 10, 2008

Traveling in pairs

One of the benefits of getting a ride home from the Metro earlier this week, instead of driving, as I usually do, is that I got to look around at what's happening around me. Sure, it's only Rockville Pike, a particularly hideous six-lane road that goes through Rockville, but still, it lets you can catch up on who's no longer in business, who's starting up, and so on.

You'll be happy to know that there's a new Hooters starting up along the Pike. But strangely enough, it's located only about a block south and across the street from the existing Hooters. To give you an idea of how close they are, here's a fragment of the map. The arrow represents the existing location (actually, the restaurant is set back from the road), and the X that I drew on the map represents the new location.

I forced myself to visit the Hooters website, and there's no indication that a second location exists in Rockville. Which I find puzzling.

In any event, you have to wonder about the strategy of locating two restaurants so close to each other. Unless the original site is closing and moving to the new site, this looks a lot like the Starbucks strategy, which is called "infill," defined thus: "adding stores in cities where its mermaid logo is already commonplace. In some cases, that means putting a Starbucks within a block of an existing store, if not closer."

Now, let your entrepreneurial imagination warm up for a minute. If you're thinking Starbucks and Hooters combined -- you know, coffee delivered by women in skimpy clothing -- forget about it. It's been done. It's called Cowgirls Espresso in Seattle. Go ahead. Click the link. It's to me, and I have the photo there.

So after all this, we're left to ponder two Hooters locations within, maybe, 200 yards of each other.

I think, though, that I have the answer. Remember the Woody Allen movie called "Everything You Wanted To Know About Sex *But Were Afraid To Ask"? There's a sketch in the movie in which Woody is pursued by a giant breast, which is trapped in . . . you got it, a giant brassiere. (Fragment here.) After it's trapped, he says he's still worried, because "these things usually travel in pairs."

Just like Hooters.