Lynn D. Stewart (businessman)

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Not to be confused with Lynn D. Stewart (politician).
Lynn D. Stewart
Born Lynn D. Stewart
October 10, 1943
Woodstock, Illinois
Residence Florida
Nationality American
Education University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign
Occupation Businessman
Employer Hooters;
Known for Majority shareholder and co-founder of the original Hooters Restaurant chain
Title C.E.O. retired
Board member of
Director of Pearly's Oasis and L.D. Stewarts Custom Homes, Inc.
Spouse(s) Juanita Stewart

Lynn "L.D." Stewart (born October 10, 1943) is an American businessman. In 1983, Stewart and five associates opened the first Hooters, Inc. restaurant in Clearwater, Florida. The collective Hooters brand has since expanded to more than 430 stores worldwide.[1] Practically every dish on the first menu was an item that Stewart developed himself.

Early life[edit]

Born Lynn D. Stewart in Woodstock, Illinois in 1943, Stewart gained early fame as an offensive guard playing for the 1963 Fighting Illini squad alongside center Dick Butkus, tackle Archie Sutton, and running back Jim Grabowski. The team defeated UCLA, Michigan, and fourth-ranked Michigan State during the regular season. The Fighting Illini squad then topped Washington 17–7 in the 1964 Rose Bowl.[2]

Following college, Stewart served three years in the U.S. Army. Afterward he took a job working for an interstate construction company in Atlanta. He also worked for a time as a coal mine foreman in Chattanooga, Tennessee. When he realized that working in a mine was extremely hazardous, he moved his family from Chattanooga to Florida, where they had relatives.[3] He and his wife, Juanita,[4] have two sons.[5]

Business ventures[edit]


Main article: Hooters

Stewart and five business associates opened the first Hooters in Clearwater, Florida on April Fools' Day, April 1, 1983,[6] as an inside joke because they were sure they would fail at the venture, even going so far as placing tombstones bearing the names of previous tenants who failed in that location outside the entrance of their new establishment.[7] Stewart said of opening the first Hooters: "I had every intention of being broke in six months."[3]

Nearly all of the restaurant's original recipes came from Stewart's test kitchen.[2][3] Although critics of the Hooter's name and concept dubbed it the nation's first "breastaurant",[6] the concept was a success, and the business started to turn a profit in just four months. The group rapidly expanded the business.[3] In 1996, the Hooters chain generated more than $300 million in revenue.[6] The chain has grown to over 425 restaurants in 44 states and 12 countries.[2] Stewart owned a 51% majority stake of the business until he sold his shares in 1995[2] to a group led by Robert H. Brooks.[6][8]

Tax evasion trial[edit]

The United States Federal Government and Internal Revenue Service filed charges against Stewart in 2005, claiming that he failed to report $11 million in income which he earned by selling his stock and ownership in Hooters Inc.[9] Stewart was charged with two counts each of tax evasion and of filing false income-tax returns for the years 1997 and 1998. Stewart maintained that his personal assistant and financier, Mike Maricle, was to blame for any tax discrepancies.[3] The trial ended after three weeks in a mistrial.[5]

Other enterprises[edit]

Before starting Hooter's, Stewart owned a general contracting company called L.D. Stewart Enterprises.[3] He also served as Director of Pearly's Oasis.[10] Both firms were based in St. Petersburg, Florida.[3][10]


  1. ^ "About Hooters: A little history". Hooters, Inc. 2012. Retrieved 2 March 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d Pearson, Mike (October 4, 2009). "Illini Legends, Lists & Lore: Lynn Stewart". Retrieved February 1, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Graham, Kevin (November 10, 2005). "'Hooters' founder blames ex-friend". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved February 1, 2013. 
  4. ^ "Hooters Saga". original Retrieved February 1, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b Thompson, Steve (February 5, 2006). "Sheriff Defends Honorary Deputies". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved February 2, 2013. 
  6. ^ a b c d "Hooters of America, Inc. History". Funding Universe. Retrieved February 1, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Hooters Biography". Rad Lyrics. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  8. ^ Martin, Douglas (July 18, 2006). "Robert H. Brooks, 69, Owner of Hooters Restaurant Chain, Is Dead". The New York Times. Retrieved February 2, 2013. 
  9. ^ Brink, Graham (February 19, 2004). "Where Shrewd Financing Meets Tax Evasion". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved February 2, 2013. 
  10. ^ a b "Pearlys Oasis, Inc.". Biz-a-pedia. July 6, 2012. Retrieved February 2, 2013.