Over the past five years Twin Peaks has established a leadership role in the burgeoning category of casual-dining sports bars with an all-female wait staff known wryly as “breastaurants.”
With its tongue-planted-firmly-in-cheek tagline of being a restaurant with “Scenic Views,” Twin Peaks is following in the path well trodden by the shapely gams of niche pioneer Hooters. Other chest-forward chains pursuing the same market are the Tilted Kilt Pub & Eatery in Tempe, Ariz., and Brick House Tavern + Tap, created by the Joe’s Crab Shack crew of Houston.
Twin Peaks is growing this year and has plans to add five stores to its current roster of 11. The company has nine units open across Texas and one store each in Albuquerque, N.M., and Tulsa, Okla. Others will be opening soon in Houston and South Lake, Texas, as well as Lincoln, Neb.; Fayetteville, Ark.; and Oklahoma City.
“I wanted to create a restaurant concept that was just for guys,” said Randy Dewitt, founder of Twin Peaks. “I decided I would just give it the things I like. I love mountain lodges. I love rock music. I love hearty, healthy, tasty food. I love pretty girls. I love ice cold beer. Who doesn’t? And it’s working great for us.”
Dewitt had developed the Rockfish seafood concept, which at one time partnered with Brinker International Inc. “I had a seafood restaurant I needed to close,” he said. “It was the wrong concept in the right neighborhood. I just looked around at who was being successful in that trade area, and the sports bars were thriving.” The first Twin Peaks opened in Lewisville, Texas, in spring 2005.
Operators in the breastaurant segment have shown themselves to be savvy at repurposing sites left vacant by failed casual-dining restaurants. Frank Steed of The Steed Consultancy in Kerens, Texas, said, “These conversions have a track record of increasing annual sales two- to threefold and changing bar mix from 10 to 15 percent to the 50-percent-plus range.”
Dewitt recently opened Ojos Locos — Spanish for “crazy eyes” — in Dallas, a version of Twin Peaks aimed at the Hispanic market.
The all-female wait staff at Twin Peaks, outfitted variously in plaid tops or sometimes basic black bikini tops, appeals mostly to male customers ages 21 to 54 who, in Dewitt’s terms, have a “hall pass” from wives or girlfriends to patronize a sports bar staffed by young women.
Teresa Gubbins, restaurant editor for the PegasusNews.com website in Dallas, said a change among suburban values in the middle of the first decade of the 2000s opened the floodgates to the casual-dining breastaurant.
“It’s a very middle-class suburban thing to me,” she said. “You can enjoy the environment and not suffer the shame or the disapproval of your wife.” And for a wait staff that is “cast” rather than “hired” to sidestep legal issues and that has grown up with stripper poles being used in exercise programs, a philosophy has developed where “using your body is an act of feminism rather than an act of exploitation,” Gubbins added.
Twin Peaks is growing through both company-operated and franchised stores, which average about $3 million per unit in annual sales.
Shannon Glaser, Twin Peaks director of franchise development, said the typical Twin Peaks franchisee has multiple units. “We promote the high-level A/V systems,” she said. “The menu really stands out against the other concepts that are similar to ours in the fact that all our food is made from scratch.”
Top sellers on the menu are nachos and burgers, and the 12 draft beers are touted with below-freezing service temperatures.
Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]