Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Opinion

Ruth: Hulk Hogan's restaurant a tangible test

There's plenty of reasons restaurants attract customers. Food would seem to be important. Ambience is a nice touch, too. And a great bar is always a plus.

And sometimes an eatery tries to base its appeal on who owns the joint. When I lived in Chicago, Harry Caray and Da Bears' Mike Ditka both had interests in dining establishments that bore their names. And they largely succeeded because Harry Caray and Mike Ditka would actually show up from time to time to rub elbows with the customers.

Jim McMahon, too, had a restaurant named after him. But after appearing for the opening night festivities, the funky QB could be found on the premises about as often as Thomas Pynchon and it didn't take long to turn out the lights.

Tampa is soon to add to the celebrity-as-restaurant-tycoon motif. And this might be one of those odd situations where you hope the literally big name stays as far away as possible.

Really now, does anyone really want Hulk Hogan looming over your pasta du jour dripping sweat onto the bolognese sauce?

This could be one the first nightspots where the owner has to wear the bib, rather than the patron.

Located at the old Crabby Bill's in the Best Western Bay Harbor Hotel on the Courtney Campbell Parkway, it's going to be called Hogan's Beach — obviously a lot of marketing research went into this.

The great man explained to the Tampa Bay Times Laura Reiley that the new spot will be ". . . Jimmy Buffett's (Margaritaville) times 10, Hooters times 10. It's the logical extension of the Hogan brand image and likeness. We're looking for something like Winter the Dolphin. In 36 years I've become so tangible to the public; and not just Americans. We have a chance to have an international draw."

Well, after all that puffery, we can probably safely assume one will not find humble pie on the menu.

And we probably will also not be too sticker shocked to find the bill Margaritaville times 10, too. After all, you can't put too fine a price on being able to bask in the Hulkster's oil sheen after that long flight from Paris to Hogan Beach for some conch fritters-ala-bodyslam.

As for Hooters times 10, one can only wonder if the tensile strength of all that Spandex will be able to hold up under the weight. Is Hooters times 10 the decolletage equivalent of Spinal Tap's 11 on the volume nob?

Despite Hogan's high opinion of his status in American, sorry, make that international culture, "tangible" doesn't quite seem to be the right word to define his oeuvre.

This is a chap who made his fortune as one of the of the foremost practitioners of faux wrestling and then exploited his family in a phony "reality show" and then found himself being video taped as he engaged in coo-coo-ca-choo with the then-wife of a cheesy local disc jockey he once claimed was his best friend.

Ahem, let's just say the dignity train pulled out of Hulk Hogan's life around 1974 — give or take a do-rag, or two.

This could be one of the first celebrity-themed restaurants where all the memorabilia on the walls needs to be covered up every time an 11-year-old walks into the place.

Hogan's Beach will probably be relatively successful.

After all, in our star-struck culture Hulk Hogan, the Jacques Pépin of pecs, does indeed prove that it doesn't take much to have the public eating out of your hand.

Bon Appe-turnbuckle!

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