The hottest new trend in casual dining? The ‘breastaurant’

From Twin Peaks to the Tilted Kilt, sexed-up dining chains are popping up everywhere

Get ready for the ‘breastaurant’

Douglas R. Clifford/St. Petersburg Times/ZUMA Press/Keystone Press

If you’ve not yet heard of “breastaurants,” gird yourself: they’re about to roll out across Canada. And this new generation of mammary-centric casual dining chains—with their slick thematic formats, man-cave mentality and hyper-friendly female servers schooled in “touchology”—makes Hooters seem downright quaint.

First out of the gate is Tilted Kilt, a Tempe, Ariz.-based “Celtic”-themed sports pub chain whose servers wear tiny tartan tops and micro-mini kilts. Originating in Las Vegas in 2003, the Hooters-Brigadoon hybrid has 60 locations in the U.S. with 15 franchises in development. Its first Canadian location opened in Edmonton last December; a Toronto franchise will open in June, with a Calgary outpost slated for July. “We’re racing to have it finished before Stampede,” says Mark Hanby, Tilted Kilt’s vice-president of development. Hanby admits the company “had serious butterflies” about opening in Edmonton, but now expects the chain’s average annual per-location sales of US$2.7 million to be higher north of the border, in part because of higher prices. The Calgary location is 8,000 sq. feet, bigger than the chain’s average 6,000- to-6,500 sq.-foot floorplan in the U.S. Hanby, who has scouted the country, says Ottawa, Halifax and Saint John, N.B., are ripe for the concept. He hopes to see six locations in the Toronto area by the end of 2013.

Over the past decade, the “breastaurant” has emerged as the second-fastest growing sector in the casual dining industry behind upscale burgers, says Darren Tristano, an industry consultant with Chicago-based Technomic, Inc., who coined the “breastaurant” neologism in 2007. Puns and plaid go with the territory. Addison, Tex.-based Twin Peaks, founded in 2005, has 20 U.S. locations with plans for another 30 by year-end. It exploits an Alpine lodge theme with “scenic views” provided by “Lumber Jill” servers in skimpy plaid shirts and hiking shorts. Canada is on Twin Peaks’s radar, says marketing director Meggie Miller: “We’ve received lots of interest and we’re open to seriously considering qualified [franchisee] candidates.” Meanwhile, regional players are thriving in the U.S., among them Brick House Tavern & Tap, Honey Shack, and Bone Daddy’s House of Smoke, which boasts “BBQ, beer, and Daddy’s girls” in midriff-baring sweaters.

“Breastaurant” customers are 80 per cent male, range in age from 21 to 35, and are not necessarily single, says Tristano. Tilted Kilt’s clientele skews slightly older at 38, says Hanby, who notes they’ve had success near Florida retirement communities and military bases.

As retrogade as it may appear, the “breastaurant” trend is propelled by current cultural and economic trends. The spectre of scantily clad women that made Clearwater, Fla.-based Hooters a target of outrage when it opened in 1983 is now engrained culturally, down to near-naked barristas manning “sexpresso” stands in the Seattle area. Vancouver-based Earls Kitchen and Bar, for example, has morphed from casual preppy servers in the 1990s to female servers in form-fitting black cocktail gear. “We’ve grown up,” says Cate Simpson, spokeswoman for the 63-location chain. She admits some servers’ skirts are so short they’re thinking of imposing a dress code: “They look great but we have to keep a standard.”

The fact that Hooters allowed its brand to wither provided an opportunity, says Tristano, as did the availability of locations with good lease rates due to the economic downturn. Hooters, a US$1-billion juggernaut with 455 locations (11 in Canada), has become as dated as its servers’ suntan-coloured pantyhose and orange nylon shorts. Sales declined more than 7.5 per cent last year. Over a dozen locations have closed and its CEO recently jumped ship to Twin Peaks.

The “breastaurant” concept resonates amid economic and gender-role uncertainty. They’re proletariat men’s clubs, soothing public man caves where guys go to bond, drink cold beer and watch the game without being told to put the toilet seat down. Sales are 50 per cent alcohol; menus are defiantly masculine: pulled pork, burgers and wings. Twin Peaks taps into to the mindset with its slogan: “Twin Peaks is about you, because YOU’RE THE MAN!” Brick House Tavern & Tap offers built-in “man caves”—seats of four nestled in front of big-screen TVs. Bone Daddy’s even has a free “VIP” club.

It’s an ethos that fits with what the American cultural critic Susan Douglas calls “enlightened sexism”—the notion that formerly “sexist” depictions of women are harmless, even fun, when presented with an ironic wink. “We’re a place that makes fun of men; women are this, sports are that,” Twin Peaks CEO Randy Dewitt has said.

The big draw, says Tristano, is attentive, friendly service. “It’s all about the ambiance and the servers,” he says. “You don’t go for the food.” Tilted Kilt’s Hanby agrees: “A lot of people are selling beer and food. So to win we’ve got to be spectacular and different.” He boasts of Tilted Kilt’s “upbeat atmosphere” and “entertainment in the form of interaction.” Guests don’t just ogle the servers, they’re given permission to engage, he says. “They can open their mouths, they can have a dialogue.”

Tilted Kilt servers, or “cast members,” as they’re known, are “sassy,” “sexy fun,” and “sexy smart,” Hanby says. Training focuses on how to make a connection with the guests and provide entertainment value. “Most of the girls have a shtick, and we work with them to develop it.” Tilted Kilt’s CEO Ron Lynch has spoken of servers employing “touchology”—touching the table often, and making guests feel at home. “Sometimes waitresses are providing the best part of a guest’s day,” he says.

Twin Peaks’s servers even connect with regulars on social media, sharing what shifts they’ll be working and daily specials. Such friendly details provide ample opportunity to “upsell,” industry-speak for increasing the bill. At Twin Peaks, for instance, servers taking a beer order will ask, “Do you want the ‘man size’ or the ‘girl size’?”

Hanby, who talks of “keeping it PG13,” insists the line between banter and flirting is not crossed: “It should not be sexual in any way, shape or form.” He doesn’t shy from the “breastaurant” label but says they don’t use it internally: “We never refer to our servers using a part of their anatomy,” he says. “We’d never put the ladies in a position that would objectify them,” a comment at odds with the publication of the annual women of Tilted Kilt calendar. Hanby doesn’t deny the concept is based on the “sex sells” truism. “There’s sex appeal involved,” he says. “We don’t back away from that. It’s part of life every day, everywhere.”

Expect more of it. Tristano sees room for another 500 “breastaurants” in the U.S. and 200 to 300 in Canada. Small chains are starting to jump on the trend, he says. As for the female-equivalent “chestaurant,” Tristano sees little likelihood of that: “Women are more focused on the food experience,” he says. “There’s a big difference in what men want.”

Meanwhile, the Tilted Kilt has registered its cutesy-naughty name internationally. Asia and former Eastern Bloc countries are ripe for expansion, Hanby says. As for taking the concept to Scotland, home of the first tilted kilt? “That’s not on our agenda,” he says. “Yet.”


The hottest new trend in casual dining? The ‘breastaurant’

  1. Good looking friendly women working as waitresses, how novel. I’ll pass on hangin’ out with oglers and on encouraging a waitress from embarrassing herself for a living.

  2. Gross…I won’t want to eat there….I agree on the whole waitress embarrassing herself..just another reason for men to rape them…

    • If you were a cop, you’d get a public smackdown for that last bit.

  3. Such a place might be nice to hang out…if it weren’t for all the other clientele.

  4. Employers better be ready cause they are the ones who have to protect their employees.

  5. “We’d never put the ladies in a position that would objectify them,” – LOL. LOL! LOL?

  6. This comment was deleted.

    • I was with you until the last sentence. There is no excuse for men to be raping women, regardless of their clothing.

      • Indeed. I’ve seen religious wingnuts (of the Muslim variety, at least) argue that women get raped for dressing down. I must wonder, then: Is rape a big problem at nudist colonies?

        • It’s not remotely a muslim only position: people of all types suggest that women are at fault for dressing inappropriately. For the best current example Slut Walk exists because a Toronto Police Officer walked into a room of university students to discuss Rape Prevention and said that. Based on the name, I suspect he’s not Muslim.

          “Appropriate Dress” has been a handwave excuse/justification (A “good” girl wouldn’t dress like that) for Rape pretty much everywhere and in every culture at one point or another; particularly amongst those who see it as a way to exert some control over the opposite sex.

  7. I was out for dinner the other night at a regular restaurant with my missus and our waitress had top 3 buttons of her shirt undone and we could see bra strap. As long as women aren’t being forced to work there, which I assume they aren’t, than brestaurants are just another kind of restaurant.

    Breasts are the most powerful force in the universe and women have been using them to bewitch men for millennia.

    • Men are so weak and basic

    • Hahahaha! Sheesh…men bewitched by breasts….there are some many men now with their own breasts….my daughters say they are “moobs’…male boobs….I would have thought the fascination would have diminished somewhat. Who knew!

    • Women have actually been using those breasts to feed babies…

  8. What is the problem here? Women playing peek-a-boo with the boys who send them home with a wad of cash.

    Who here thinks these women go home and weep at the humiliation, at the objectification of their bodies, at the objectification of their ‘shtick’?

    Easy money for an easy game. And the boys get a fantasy – which is all a boy needs, really.

    To carry it off she has to be quick and smart and have a sense of fun. And that’s all the boys need, too.

    All the rest of you? Get to church. Pray that the day will come again when we are ruled by men so horrified by simple fun that they burn wanton women at the stake.

    Pray. Please pray. And otherwise please shut up.

    The polling station is down the road a stretch. Just keep driving.

    • This is by far the most intelligent response here. Thank you!!

  9. “Enlightened sexism”! What does that mean and will it fly if men advocate it?

    • the real patchouli did not post this; senorito, is that you again? Fargin’ icehole; get your own name you pissant.

  10. My girlfriend is wondering why there are no “brosteraunt’s” in service.

    • because women never pay, it’s the men.

      • only in Sudbury

    • Nobody want’s to eat in a place where guys have their shirts off. Take yours off at dinner tomorrow and see if she says anything. On the other hand I do appreciate the female form.

  11. So there’s no way an employee can file for harrassment then if needed?

  12. Just another way of exploiting men for money, just like a strip joint. An expensive tease, but at least the food might be decent.

  13. Apparently as long as sexism is “ironic,” it’s magically okay.

  14. I’m for tushys. Or is that tushies. what is incredulous is the billion$ empires that have been created. it’s hard, very hard.

  15. It’s a man’s world!!!

  16. i don’t have much appetite to start with…….

  17. Are you kidding? Bring on the chestaurant, with attractive men showing some chest and prepared to be ironically interested in us!

    Or better yet, a co-ed casual restaurant with attractively-exposed persons of all sexes who can be both professional about their waitperson job, and friendly, within limits understood by all.

    Of course women often pay the bill (what decade are you guys stuck in?), and in such a restaurant there would be something for everyone.

  18. all women bitch about is how men treat them like sex objects, ever wonder why? because we act like that. walking around in skanky outfits while expecting people to treat us like smarty pants when obviously at that point our chest which is barley being held in is the main focus of anyone talking to us, be it other offeded or jeleous women, to offended and horny men. Older, mature women acting like hos just shows the younger girls that it is okay, maybe we should be teaching them the world doesnt need to see all our cracks, especially at work. what happened to professionalism and just a genuine nice attitute, thats how i get tips at my jobs, after reading this i hope thats my nice attitude is actually pulling in the tips and not my firm booty. I know if my boss ever handed me an outfit like that first thing i would do is walk out the door.

  19. When I spotted the headline I was really intrigued… I thought perhaps finally a restaurant chain had opened which openly welcomed mom’s feeding their babies… and no, it’s about the servers, yawn, I’ve got no problem with servers keeping theirs out, but I wonder how the restaurant will react when mom’s whip theirs out? Bad for business? They’d have a hard time justifying that one! Jus’ sayin!

    • As it’s a family restaurant…wouldn’t it be interesting to see about 50 mothers take there babies and breastfeed over lunch….That would make headlines for sure! I don’t have a kid or live in Edmonton or I’d organize it!!!!!

  20. So the server can let it all hang out but the breastfeeding Mom is asked to leave? That is the true irony.

  21. In a genderless liberal society those would be man breasts…

  22. Terrific. Feminism manged to all but kill off real masculinity, with concepts such as protecting the weak, taking responsibility for one’s sexual activity, and being a leader in society pretty much gone from the social radar. And now “masculinity” is viewed as this: ogling slutty women in a beer joint.

    Way to go feminism. Clearly we’re headed for utopia and universal respect for women here.

    • Enough already with your ridiculous claims that women working is about feminism. WWII saw all kinds of women being pulled into the work force out of necessity….apparently “real masculinity, with concepts such as protecting the weak, etc. etc. don’t apply during wartime. If men get off on “ogling slutty women in a beer joint”, don’t you dare blame it on women….it is men doing what men do. There was a bar in Calgary (owned by a man) who offered to pay half the price of a boob job for any of his waitresses. Do you honestly think his mother encouraged his bad behavior or was he looking as his daddy’s dirty magazines?

      • (1) “Enough already with your ridiculous claims that women working is about feminism.”
        Work is honourable, and women have been working as hard as or harder than men since the human race began. Take your slanderous misreadings of what I said somewhere else.

        (2) “If men get off on “ogling slutty women in a beer joint”, don’t you dare blame it on women….it is men doing what men do.”

        I truly pity you, if the only kind of men you’ve encountered in your life are lowlifes like this. And yes, I do blame feminism for the fact that this behaviour is now mainstream enough to be incorporated into several large business chains. Modern feminism advocates what you have just regurgitated: that men are no better than beasts and shouldn’t be expected to behave with chivalry or class. Blaming feminism is not the same thing as blaming women, however, since any self-respecting woman (and I have been privileged to know many) hates modern feminism and its repulsive contempt for both femininity and masculinity.

        • If “modern feminism” is to blame for breastaurants, how do you explain the success of the “original breastaurant” ….aka…..The Playboy Club that opened in Chicago in the year 1960. Or when you refer to “modern feminism” are you taking about the suffragattes that got women the vote?
          As for my “low opinion’ of men…it doesn’t come anyway close to your low opinion of women who considers themselves feminists. I just happen to believe that everyone…both sexes…should behave with honor of chivalry and class. If boys and men aren’t behaving that way, it might not be the fault of the dreaded feminists but maybe that they didn’t have really great role models to teach them proper behavior by modelling it.
          Now I wouldn’t want to be accused of further “slanderous misreadings” but did you just say that any woman who doesn’t “hate modern feminism” isn’t self-respecting?

    • That has nothing at all to do with feminism. It does have everything to do with the internet commentariat’s complete strawman version of it, however. Kudos.

      • You’re right. Feminism has nothing at all to do with the sexual revolution or the decline of the masculine chivalrous ideal. Kudos.

        • It doesn’t. Feminism has nothing at all to do with the development of the juvenile man-child titties-and-beer archetype that has developed.

          Being a good, strong, helpful, and confident man does not require in any way, shape, or form, a weak benighted female stereotype to exist. So no, feminism didn’t create any of that.

  23. Well well well. This little gem says it all – quote: [ “We’re a place that makes fun of men; women are this, sports are that,” Twin Peaks CEO Randy Dewitt has said. ] The whole point of these places is to MAKE FUN OF men or rather to STEREOTYPE them. People laugh at the men who are exploited at these places. Not only do they take your money for making you look stupid but they take your pride too. This is social engineering folks because this obvious directed arrested development of men is aimed at destroying civilization.

  24. “sexy smart” servers….LOL

  25. Women wearing clothing that shows a lot of breast isn’t the same as pulling your tit out and having a infant suck on it. Why compare two things that obviously aren’t related (except for the breast obviously).

  26. I bet you 90 percent of the women leaving these rude comments are middle aged and/or unattractive women whose husbands will probably visiting these restaurants and finding the women more attractive than their own. Get over your insecurity. I work at one of these “breastaraunts” and love the money! Yeah, guys check me out… I’m sorry you must be unattractive and this doesn’t happen to you… but men check me out everywhere I go. I might as well have fun and make money while it happens. I wear less at the beach and people look for free!

    • This article is extremely one sided. I am not ashamed to capitalize on my self confidence. Bitches be jealous!

      • what are you going to do when you lose your “self Confidence”

  27. An idea whose time has come! Or something like that. Anyway, bring it on!!! :oP

  28. What a horrendous world we live in!! All you foolish bitches who are for such restaurants, need a psych evaluation!! I’m so friggen sick to death of women allowing themselves to be exploited time and time again! I am not fat, nor ugly , and I am married , I always have guys looking at me daily, but what they look at is a lady fully dressed in class!!!!

  29. These employers better be ready to deal with the lawsuits and the sexual harassment claims! Cause when you hire sluts to run around barely dressed in a restaurant that caters to men and glorifies beer…you’re going to have a lot of drunken debauchery!

  30. Hanby, who talks of “keeping it PG13,” insists the line between banter
    and flirting is not crossed: “It should not be sexual in any way, shape
    or form.” Hanby is a complete MORON. Not sexual in any way……what in the hell do you suppose these whores are??? Take one look at their website. It screams exploitation of dumb young college girls flaunting their goods to make money for the big wigs while their cleaning up after people to make minimum wage and getting harassed by dirty drunken men and being degraded…

  31. An extreme breastaurant example, the penthouse club with 90% male patrons.

    • 1000 ways to die, did an episode on one of the brestaurants, but they changed the name to pink peaks.