The Commercial Appeal

Side dish of sex appeal

All dishes not on menu at ‘breastaura­nts’

- By Sandra Pedicini

ORLANDO, Fla. — Sandwiches with a side dish of sex appeal were on the menu when Peter Buell and Rick Paulk stopped for lunch recently at a Tilted Kilt restaurant here.

“I like the waitresses and the uniforms, obviously,” said Buell, 50, as a young woman served him wearing a short plaid skirt and matching push-up bra under a midriff-baring white shirt.

The Tilted Kilt is part of a dining sector known in the industry as “breastaura­nts.” The edgy eateries with scantily clad servers are rapidly expanding throughout the United States. Locations in the Mid-South include Fayettevil­le, Ark., and Clarksvill­e and Hendersonv­ille, Tenn.

The allure is simple: “Being able to freely gawk and leer at young women in scanty clothing,” said Chris Muller, a hospitalit­y professor at Boston University. “That’s no longer socially acceptable, so we institutio­nalize it and give it a venue.”

While the outfits are skimpier, these days “breastaura­nts” — such as Twin Peaks, Brick House Tavern and Tap, and Hooters — say they are offering more than titillatio­n, with unique themes and better food.

Rapid expansion has fueled growth at these small chains, which fall into a category that marketrese­arch firm Technomic euphemisti­cally calls “attentive service.”

Twin Peaks plans to almost double the number of locations this year to about 50. In 2012, sales doubled to $ 97 million. From 2010 to 2011, according to a Technomic estimate, Tilted Kilt’s sales grew 33 percent to $124 million.

The notable exception is Hooters, which first made the concept mainstream in the 1980s after opening its The Tilted Kilt Pub & Eatery in Orlando, Fla., has scantily clad servers bring the orders to its customers. first restaurant in Clearwater, Fla. It had 365 restaurant­s in 2011, including three in the Memphis area, down from 400 in 2008, according to Technomic’s estimates. It has shut down restaurant­s as it has struggled to stay relevant. Last year, the chain said it wanted to lure in more women with new décor and more salads. Hooters executives wouldn’t comment about how that effort is going.

Twin Peaks, on the other hand, unabashedl­y oozes testostero­ne. The logo for the mountain lodgetheme­d chain — it has locations in Brentwood, Tenn., and one opening in Little Rock — features two slightly curvy snowcapped mountains.

It bills itself as “the ultimate man cave” that “feeds the stomach and the ego at the same time.” Busty waitresses usually dress in shorts and skimpy tops, except special occasions when they don lingerie.

“We don’t pretend to be a brand that is going to have a super-broad appeal to families and girls’ night out,” chief executive officer Randy DeWitt said.

And while sex clearly sells, an eatery that relies on little else runs the risk of going bust. Take Java Girls, an Orlando coffeehous­e featuring bikiniclad baristas. A little more than a year after opening, it is now history.

“Gimmicks don’t tend to sustain a business,” said Dennis Lombardi, a restaurant consultant.

 ??  ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States