Undercover Boss: President and CEO of Hooters of America | Where are They Now?
Coby Brooks, President and CEO of Hooters of America, encounters one of the worst managers during a shift at one of his Texas restaurants.
Hooters restaurants, known for their wings, beer and scantily-clad servers, sent their president and CEO, Coby Brooks, to go undercover and learn about the operations of the billion dollar business from the ground level. Brooks inherited the leadership of the company from his father, Robert Brooks, who was responsible for taking this restaurant concept from Florida and scaling it to a worldwide phenomenon.
Coby Brooks did not have working for Hooters in his career plans until his brother tragically passed away in a crash aboard one of the corporate planes.
“The Hooters name…it is not only our biggest strength. It is also our biggest weakness.”
Brooks shares that the Hooters brand is currently battling brand issues. While the company is trying to position itself as a family establishment, many voices in the public are unhappy with its exploitation of scantily clad women. But that’s not the only issue. At the time of filming, the U.S. was facing a tough economic marketplace, and sales were down across the board at Hooters restaurants. Brooks plans to go undercover to gain some insight to see what he can do to keep the company afloat.
Coby Brooks ditches the facial hair and private jets, and dresses as everyman Scott Archer to work entry-level jobs across the company.
Job #1 - Back-of-House - West End Hooters Restaurant - Dallas, TX
It’s been over 20 years since Coby Brooks has worked in a kitchen, and he’s thrown immediately into the deep end with David, the restaurant manager. He is scheduled to start during the restaurant’s rush hour, and he’s asked to perform a number of duties, including dishwashing, trash disposal and bussing tables.
After working a bit too slowly and breaking a few mugs, David states that he would NOT HIRE Scott Archer to work at his restaurant.
Job #2 - Street Team - Downtown Dallas, TX
Brooks is set up with two Hooters services, Amanda and Brittney, to do some street promotion of the restaurant by handing out free wings and driving crowds to the local restaurant. It is here that he gets direct feedback from the public about the restaurant. While some men are looking for the wrong things (like naked women), some concerned bystanders bring up the fact that they believe the restaurant exploits and degrades women.
This feedback troubles Coby Brooks deeply, giving him food for thought as he continues his stint as an entry-level employee.
Job #3 - Assistant General Manager - South Arlington, TX
It is at the South Arlington Hooters restaurant where he meets Jimbo, the general manager of the establishment.
Jimbo starts off his shift with a degrading “lineup”, where he asks all the girls to stand still while he inspects their hair, makeup and outfits.
Coby Brooks is simply disgusted by this behavior, and his discomfort with Jimbo’s behavior can be felt in the air.
While the lineup exercise was shocking, nothing will prepare you for what is next.
For his next outrageous exercise, Jimbo makes the girls eat a plate of beans with their hands behind their backs to see who could go home first.
Coby is left speechless by this behavior, and immediately calls the franchise owner to report this disrespectful behavior from Jimbo.
Job #4 - Assistant Manager - Fort Worth, TX
Brooks is now shuttled off to Fort Worth, TX, and is paired up with a female manager, Marcee.
Marcee has Brooks shadow her while she works the floor, addressing staff issues, drunk customers and even the temperature of the dining room. It is a clear departure from the Jimbo experience, as Marcee acts like a mother-figure to the servers at the restaurant.
Brooks learns that having a female manager for the staff to turn to is a clear positive aspect of the Fort Worth Hooters restaurant.
Job #5 - Naturally Fresh Factory - Atlanta, GA
Coby Brooks is now sent to Naturally Fresh, where Hooters wing sauces and dips are manufactured. He meets Chip, who is the sales director of the factory, at the back of the factory and is smuggled in.
Brooks is set up with Ricky to fill up buckets of Hooters wing sauce. Brooks asks Ricky about his opinion on the boss, and he shares that the owner had passed away a few years ago, and that he was a very nice guy. There is no mention of Coby, though, which sheds light on his need to be more plugged into the business.
The Big Reveal
Coby Brooks returns to the corporate office, and immediately calls for a meeting with his senior leadership to address all of the issues he uncovered while working across the restaurants and factory.
Coby Brooks brings in each of the people he has worked with during his undercover stint, and this is how each of those meetings went.
Amanda and Brittney
Brooks heard direct feedback from the public while working a street promotion with Amanda and Brittney, and asks the two servers to contribute to marketing efforts across the company.
Brooks shares with Dave how much he appreciated his work ethic, which was carried over from his experience in the military, and makes a $50,000 donation to Operation Homefront in his name.
Brooks was so touched by Marcee and her hectic job, and sends her on a vacation with her family so she can decompress a bit. Anywhere she wants to go!
Last but not least, Coby Brooks needs to confront Jimbo, the disrespectful manager of the restaurant in South Arlington, TX. He shoots it straight to Jimbo, and chastises his behavior in a tense face off. He requests that Jimbo apologizes to his whole staff, but Jimbo is having none of it. Jimbo deflects that his management methods are effective, and that he has a proven track record of increasing sales with his style of leadership. It is only when Coby Brooks states that he would NEVER let his daughters work for Jimbo that the message gets through.
Where is Coby Brooks, President and CEO of Hooters, now?
The Hooters Restaurant Group was sold off to a private equity firm nearly a year after the premier of the episode, and Coby Brooks was replaced by Terrance Marks, a veteran of the Coca-Cola Company. In a shocking move, Brooks immediately went to Hooters’ biggest competitor, Twin Peaks, and became a franchisee. His restaurants are held under his franchise company called La Cima Restaurants, LCC, per his LinkedIn profile.