With the recent conflict in Crimea, Russian-American relations have turned as frosty as any point since the end of the Cold War.
But that isn't stopping Brooklyn Nets veteran Andrei Kirilenko from bringing a distinctly American product to his home country this month.
Bloomberg reports that the first of five Hooters restaurants that Kirilenko plans to build in Moscow will open on April 28.
“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."
Kirilenko's Russian Hooters restaurants are a part of the company's largest international expansion in its 23-year existence. The Atlanta-based company plans to open 19 restaurants outside the United States this year, including locations in Moscow and Phuket, Thailand.
The 33-year-old Kirilenko, who at age 18 in 1999 became the youngest European player ever drafted by an NBA team, said one of the restaurant's biggest challenges in Russia will be overcoming the notion that it is a "strip bar."
So how does one explain the concept of Hooters to a non-American consumer? It is a chain known for hiring attractive, well-endowed women to wear low-cut tops and tight orange shorts while serving the restaurant's signature combination of chicken wings and beer.
Publicity for the restaurant's opening shouldn't be a problem, as model Irina Shayk (below), the girlfriend of soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, will be working as a waitress at the restaurant for the first week after it opens.
Injuries limited Kirilenko to 45 games with the Nets this season. He averaged 5.0 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.2 assists.
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