At least two new “breastaurant” chains are working on plans to open in South Florida this year, also featuring scantily-clad women.
Next month, the Tilted Kilt Pub & Eatery will open in Hallandale Beach with Tilted Kilt Girls sporting mini-kilts midriff-baring white tops, a sporran and stockings.
And a group of Weston restaurateurs have signed an agreement to open 10 Twin Peaks in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties.The main attraction at the mountain sports lodge-themed restaurants are the “Lumber Jills,” serving in khaki shorts and red plaid tops. They bare their midriff, too.
Owners of the specialty-themed restaurants say the servers are entertainers. Breastaurants don’t hire their employees, they audition and cast them, said Joe Sloboda, a restaurateur behind the upcoming Twin Peaks South Florida franchise.
But the restaurants have more to offer than attractive skimpily-clad servers, the owners say.
The Tilted Kilt pays homage to the old public houses of England, Scotland, Ireland and America, said Mark Hanby, Tilted Kilt’s vice president of development. Customers can even expect “humorous and slightly bawdy limericks,” he said.
“Initially, customers are drawn in for the girls,” Hanby said. “But what keeps them coming back is the great food, the selection of drinks and the unbeatable atmosphere.” he said.
Sloboda is part of the DMD Restaurant Group, which also operates Five Guys Burgers and Fries and VooDoo BBQ & Grill restaurants in the Miami area. Twin Peaks restaurants will have about 150 televisions, cold beer served at 29 degrees and comfort food, Sloboda said.
“The approach is to make sure guests coming in enjoy themselves, whether it’s a bunch of guys, couples, someone celebrating a birthday or watching a football game,” Sloboda said.
There are more than 25 Twin Peaks restaurants open in 12 states, according to a DMD Restaurant Group release. The Tilted Kilt currently has 76 restaurants operating in the U.S. and Canada and plan to have a total of 103 operating by the end of the year, the company said.
The new chains started around the mid-2000s and are rapidly expanding because Hooters “has been dormant,” said Darren Tristano, executive vice president of Technomic, a food industry research and consulting firm based in Chicago.
Hooters has not updated its concept or revamped its brand significantly in recent years, he said, yet they remain the category leader. The chain, which started in Clearwater in 1983, has 365 locations in the U.S. and brings in about $900 million in annual sales, Tristano said.
Hooters declined comment.
Collectively, the breastaurant subsection makes about $2 billion in sales annually, compared with the overall industry sales of $390 billion, Tristano said.
Technomic estimates sales at the new breastaurants are growing at a 40 percent rate annually.
And while they are gaining strength in South Florida, not all are welcoming them with open arms.
“It’s abundantly clear they’re selling sex,” said Meredith Ockman, president of the Palm Beach County chapter of the National Organization for Women. “I don’t blame anyone for making a dollar, but don’t think objectifying someone is the way to do it.”
The “breastaurant” term gained popularity about five years ago and has stuck since then, said Ron Ruggless, southwest bureau chief of the trade publication Nation’s Restaurant News.
“Some of the brands are trying to get away from it because it has a connotation of sex, but that’s basically what the category is selling,” Ruggless said.
Fabio Caro, franchise owner of the upcoming Hallandale Beach restaurant, decided to open in South Florida after visiting a Tilted Kilt in Connecticut, he said.
“Sex appeal sells,” Caro said on Tuesday while meeting with an awnings installation company outside the new location. “The women are treated professionally and with respect. They don’t only have to look good, but also have to be entertainers. It’s tasteful.”
INFORMATIONAL BOX:\ \ The leaders
Brands in the breastaurant category, and 2011 sales:
Hooters $858 million \ Tilted Kilt Pub & Eatery $123 million \ Brick House Tavern & Tap 55.5 million \ Twin Peaks 44 million \ Ker’s Winghouse Bar & Grill 42 million \ Fricker’s $38 million \ Show-Me’s $25.8 million \ Bikinis Sports Bar & Grill $11 million \Source: Technomic Chain Database Informational box at end of text.