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Andrei Kirilenko bringing Hooters to Russia

Brooklyn Nets forward Andrei Kirilenko (47) shoots as Toronto Raptors' Terrence Ross, left, and Jonas Valanciunas look on during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014 in Toronto (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Chris Young)


First published Apr 26 2014 06:14PM
Updated Apr 26, 2014 08:10PM

The restaurant chain Hooters announced last week that it will open its first Russian location, in Moscow, on Monday.

Why would anyone in Utah care, you ask?

Because former Utah Jazz star Andrei Kirilenko, who now plays for the Brooklyn Nets, is teaming up with Hooters to open five locations in the next few years. The Moscow location has hired dozens of Hooters Girls to serve up the brand’s famous chicken wings.

"Like Americans, Russians are huge sports fans that are excited about an upbeat dining experience that combines sports, delicious food and, of course, the Hooters Girls," Kirilenko said. "Hooters is the perfect fusion of all three, so it only makes sense to bring this legendary concept to my home country."

Kirilenko said many Russians know of the Hooters brand from Hollywood films, and acknowledges it will be a challenge to dispel the nation "that it’s a strip bar."

Irina Shayk, the cover model for Sport Illustrated’s 2011 swimsuit issue and the girlfriend of Real Madrid striker Cristiano Ronaldo, said she would work as a waitress at the Moscow Hooters for a week after it opens, according to the restaurant’s Facebook page.

"Russians and Americans are more alike than different — huge sports fans who are looking for great food and good times," Kirilenko said. "When you’ve got waitresses that look like ours, it’s a slam dunk." (Pun probably intended.)

Kirilenko may not make Monday’s grand opening as his Nets play at home Sunday, then travel to Toronto for Wednesday’s game.

Kirilenko’s wife, famous for giving him a yearly "free pass," seems to be on board. Masha Lopatova, who is a pop singer in Russia, has promoted the Moscow Hooters grand opening on her Instagram account.

Staff and wire reports

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