Franchisor of Hooters to partner with C3, add Umami burgers to menu

Depending on test results, strategic relationship to expand with addition of Hoots Wings

HOA Brands, the operator and franchisor of Hooters and Hoots Wings restaurants, and Sam Nazarian’s C3 by sbe have entered into a strategic agreement to test selling Umami burgers out of Hooters restaurants. Contingent on the results of the pilot, the relationship may expand further with a pilot between Umami Burger and locations of Hoots Wings, a fast-casual concept with 9 restaurants open and 120 franchise stores in the development pipeline, planning to compete with Wingstop.

There are nearly 400 Hooters restaurants across 38 states and 20 countries, operating for over four decades in the casual-dining segment. Digital-restaurant ecosystem C3 has been evolving the Umami Burger brand and recently selected chef Alvin Cailan to oversee and be the new face of the brand, which has operated for over a decade.


“We are thrilled for this opportunity to further expand C3’s reach, coupling our growing food tech ecosystem with HOA Brands’ global kitchen infrastructure,” said Nazarian, C3 founder and chief executive. “Through this potential new relationship, we expect to work together to further the digital kitchen revolution, offering in-demand, quality food offerings and innovative recipes to customers around the world.”

An expanded relationship between C3 and HOA would include C3’s proprietary GO by Citizens app, powered by Lunchbox. The app provides diners the ability to order from difference concepts on one transaction with no hidden delivery fees, says C3. It’s possible that menu items from both Hooters and Hoots Wings will be available on the GO by Citizens app in the near future.

“As an American institution, Hooters continues to pave the way,” commented Sal Melilli, chief executive and president of HOA brands. “Through a relationship with C3 we will aim to further build on the exceptional experience that Hooters is known for. In addition to offering the iconic and exciting Hooters in restaurant, our goal is to further empower both Hooters and Hoots Wing customers by offering quality made food that is created in a timely and convenient way for an on-the-go lifestyle.”


Umami Burger products should start appearing on Hooters and Hoots Wings menus in the winter, according to an announcement.

Earlier this week, C3 also announced an expanded partnership with REEF Kitchens to open and operate 800 locations to fulfill C3 restaurant brand orders. The REEF system has 5,000 proximity hub locations. C3 has nearly 1,500 kitchen locations in the pipeline and has had success scaling with REEF as a premier partner.

“Our partnership with Sam and his team at C3 is built on shared commitment to delivering quality food experiences to neighborhoods everywhere,” said Ari Ojalvo, co-founder and chief executive of REEF, at the time. “With this expanded partnership, we continue to find success as collaborators helping food innovators achieve their dreams by reaching new customers.”


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