In 1983, six businessmen incorporated a new type of restaurant under the brand name “Hooters.” Since first opening in 1983, the Hooters franchise has experienced rapid growth, amassing peak revenues of $960 million in 2007. Now, while I won’t call the founders of Hooters “revolutionary” geniuses, they did nonetheless introduce a new form of dining experience to the restaurant industry, one based on greasy bar food and beautiful young women in crop tops. This dining experience has since developed into the fastest growing restaurant segment in America, and is now described as an entirely new category: “Breastaurants.”
While Hooters maintained a monopoly over the Breastaurant market for nearly two decades, its sales began to decline during the mid 2000s. Although this was partly due to the general weariness of Hooters’ image, the decline in sales is also attributable to fierce, new competition. While Hooters struggled to rebrand its image and revive sales, other Breastaurants have taken the market by storm. Two such franchises include Tilted Kilt and Twin Peaks. Although it is entirely understandable to be skeptical of, or even offended by, such businesses, there’s no denying that the combination of sports, food, beer, and scantily clad women can make for a successful business model.
In 2013, the New York Post reported that Twin Peaks was the fastest growing restaurant chain in America. After opening its first establishment in 2005, Twin Peaks has since expanded to over 57 locations across the United States. In 2014 alone, Twin Peaks’ sales grew 45% as the company generated $165 million in sales. Likewise, Tilted Kilt has enjoyed similar success, spawning 94 pubs across the country that gross annual “per-restaurant” sales of $2.33 million (more than Hooters).
Given their meteoric growth, one must ask how, or why, these chains have managed to firmly establish themselves in a previously monopolistic market? One popular explanation is that new franchises, like Tilted Kilt and Twin Peaks, are a welcome change from an increasingly outdated Hooters model. Although Hooters has been around for almost 30 years, customers have grown tired of its lackluster menu; many customers have even complained that Hooters’ outfits are outdated. As such, new Breastaurants have been able to steal market share.
Since their inception, Tilted Kilt and Twin Peaks continue to make business model alterations, adapting to consumer demands, which have proven more successful than Hooters’ “stay-the-course” style of management. While it’s no secret that these chains use curvy and attractive women to lure customers, especially men, Tilted Kilt President Ron Lynch insists there is more to his business. In an interview with CNBC, Lynch emphasized that Tilted Kilt has very strict waitress hiring guidelines. He also attributes its success to more than its sexual atmosphere, claiming Tilted Kilt is the “ultimate sports lodge,” one that provides a complete dining experience.
There’s no disputing that Breastaurants continue to emerge as an increasingly integral part of the restaurant industry. However, it remains difficult to anticipate the timeframe surrounding this recent trend. Unlike other successful restaurants that have issued public offerings, such as Panera Bread (PNRA), Shake Shack (SHAK), and El Pollo Loco (LOCO), the “Breastaurant” concept is not difficult to replicate. In other words, it doesn’t retain any inherent qualities. If Tilted Kilt and Twin Peaks are to succeed in the long run, they must differentiate their brands in the near future. Otherwise, they may likely suffer the same fate as Hooters, and nobody wants that.