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(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Former Utah Jazz players Andrei Kirilenko (47) and Deron Williams (8) listen to the National Anthem, before the Utah Jazz vs. The Brooklyn Nets game, at the EnergySolutions Arena, Wednesday, February 19, 2014.
Andrei Kirilenko bringing Hooters to Russia


First Published Apr 26 2014 06:14 pm • Last Updated Apr 26 2014 08:10 pm

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?

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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.

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