When Ed Droste graduated from Iowa State in 1973 with a double degree in industrial administration and political science, he wasn’t sure where he was headed. A member of Tau Kappa Epsilon, he found a job in Florida at a home construction management company with the help of one of his fraternity brothers.
Droste went on to form an advertising company called Provident Management Corporation, based in Clearwater, Fla. According to an interview with Gary James, Droste decided to start a restaurant after he and other colleagues joked about combining female sex appeal with great food. What came of the idea is what Droste is currently known for — being the founder of Hooters restaurants.
Long before Hooters was a successful restaurant, however, Droste was a busy student at Iowa State. A native of Waverly, he was active in his fraternity for four years while working three jobs in addition to taking classes.
“I worked at the student supply store and as head waiter for the Tri Delta sorority for three years,” Droste said, adding that working so much sometimes took away from his social life. He would return to the fraternity after working at the sorority and would then “finish out the night with a few pitchers.”
Droste also served on the Interfraternity Council and acted as both Veishea float chairman and senior class president. He said it was a huge benefit seeing and learning from many different types of people during his time at Iowa State.
“I was fortunate to have more than a hundred guys living in the fraternity with me, guys ranging from athletes to engineers,” Droste said.
He remembers developing a strong work ethic while working and living with such a blend of people.
“I think it was osmosis,” Droste said. “I got my work ethic from being around those guys.”
Although he works in Florida, Droste still supports Iowa State in several ways. Michael Beals, president of Tau Kappa Epsilon and junior in accounting and political science, said Droste has been one of the biggest donors to the fraternity.
“He provided all the funding for our philanthropy this spring,” Beals said.
The fraternity held an event, “Hooters for Hope,” raising money for breast cancer awareness after a member’s mother passed away last fall. Droste provided the chicken wings, Hooters girls and cooks for the fundraiser that took place at the fraternity house. Droste also helped pay for the renovations to the second floor of the house.
Droste said he tries to visit often, and his parents come to every ISU football game. Last year, he sponsored a billboard in Florida showcasing the Cyclones and Gene Chizik.
Pete & Shorty’s, a Florida restaurant created by Droste, hosts Cyclone fans during Saturday games in the fall. He said Leonard Johnson, current Cyclone football player, used to work at Hooters. Johnson’s family now comes to the restaurant to watch the games.
Droste is a member of the ISU Foundation Order of the Knoll and has the Droste Den in the Gerdin building named after him.
“I think the name is pretty appropriate because I always slept between classes,” Droste said.
Even during tough economic times, he said there is still plenty to learn after graduation from college.
“I say this emphatically — you’ll learn more in tough times,” Droste said.
He recommended choosing a job that relates to a personal interest over one that has a high salary.
“These are great times to learn — try everything.”
The idea behind Hooters came when Ed Droste and his colleagues would sample chicken wings while traveling through Ft. Lauderdale. One employee would wear dolphin shorts and a tank top during charity softball tournaments, and one of Droste’s colleagues suggested combining the elements of good food and women dressed like her into something marketable. From that, the idea of Hooters was born — foods like oysters and shrimp were taken from various parts of the country and combined into one menu. Droste and other executives from his company, Provident Management Corporation, opened shop in a location that was known for failed restaurants. The idea, however, prevailed and became a rapidly growing restaurant chain.
— Information from an interview with famousinterview.com