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Updated: 3:31 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2011 | Posted: 3:24 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2011

Hooters gets new CEO, replacing son of company's founder

By Jeremiah McWilliams

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Atlanta-based Hooters of America LLC, which franchises and operates more than 430 Hooters restaurants, has hired a veteran of soft drinks bottler Coca-Cola Enterprises as president and chief executive.

Terrance M. Marks will replace Coby Brooks, the son of Hooters founder Robert H. Brooks. Hooters was acquired in January by a consortium of private investors, and the management change represents one of the largest shake-ups since the deal.

Meanwhile, Brooks will become a major franchisee for Texas-based restaurant chain Twin Peaks. The chain, themed as a mountain sports lodge, will be familiar to Hooters fans: its waitresses wear checkered bikini tops.

Brooks will lead a team of former Hooters executives who have signed development agreements to open 35 Twin Peaks restaurants in six states over the next decade.

Marks has a challenging job ahead: protecting Hooters' market share from competitors including Twin Peaks and Arizona-based Tilted Kilt Pub & Eatery, which is on a drive to open restaurants in the Atlanta market.

Greg Dollarhyde, a restaurant industry veteran who has led Baja Fresh Mexican Grill and Zoës Kitchen, said the Hooters brand is tired in the United States. The company has deferred maintenance and upkeep in its restaurants, suffered management turnover and let its menu go too long without freshening, he said.

"It needs to step its game up," Dollarhyde said in an interview this summer. "The brand is not dead, but it needs polishing."

Marks brings a varied background to the Hooters job. Most recently, he was president and chief executive of The Pantry Inc., which had 1,650 convenience stores in 13 states. Before that, he spent 21 years at Coca-Cola Enterprises in various sales, operations, finance and general management roles, culminating as president of CCE North America.

"I am thrilled to be returning to Atlanta and am very excited to be joining the Hooters team," Marks said in a statement. "The opportunity to contribute to the growth of a great brand like Hooters is extremely energizing to me."

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