A rival is challenging Hooters’ position as the top dog in the “breastaurant” business.
Twin Peaks is one of the few chains in the sit-down, casual dining business that’s actually increasing sales in 2017. The chain — known for its scantily clad “Twin Peaks girls” — is growing quickly, with system sales increasing 63% from 2013 to 2015, according to Nation’s Restaurant News. And, the 80-location chain is eager to expand, with executives eyeing the West Coast as a fertile ground for new locations.
According to the CEO, the chain’s success is all thanks to the Twin Peaks’ waitresses.
“We made sure our Twin Peaks girl is at the forefront. She’s a big part of our brand DNA. She gives us an extra edge that others don’t have,” CEO Joe Hummel recently told Nation’s Restaurant News.
Hummel would know what the rest of the industry has to offer. He worked at Hooters for eight years, starting in 2003, serving as the company’s executive vice president of operations and purchasing.
In 2011, Hummel and other ex-Hooters executives signed on to become Twin Peaks franchisees. Hooters sued Hummel and his franchise company, La Cima, for misappropriating trade secrets (the suit was settled out of court in 2012).
Twin Peaks, which was founded in Lewisville, Texas in 2005, has a slightly different feel than Hooters’ sports bar-esque atmosphere, calling itself a “sports lodge.”
Restaurants serve American classics like burgers, wings, and even “Mum’s Pot Roast.” The company brews some of its own craft beers, with names like Knotty Brunette, Gold Digger, and Dirty Blonde.
While the name of the company is a clear double entendre, Twin Peaks also fits the mountain lodge image with fireplaces, craft beers, and waitresses wearing plaid and boots.
The chain prides itself in going beyond Hooters’ cropped t-shirts and short-shorts when it comes to what it means to be dressed in a workplace appropriate manner.
“Hooters just wasn’t racy enough,” founder and then-CEO Randy DeWitt told Bloomberg in 2014.
The wait staff wears tiny plaid shirts and barely-there shorts. For special occassions, like Valentine’s Day or St. Patrick’s Day, the Twin Peaks waitresses often serve beers and mozz sticks in actual lingerie.
Hooters, on the other hand, has been downplaying the sexualized aspects of its business in recent years. As Twin Peaks has expanded, the number of Hooters locations in the US have dropped by more than 7% from 2012 to 2016, and sales have stagnated, according to industry reports. In response, Hooters has been emphasising catering and opened up a fast-casual location with fully-clothed waiters — women and men.
Even breastaurants like Twin Peaks and Hooters can’t escape the challenges that all casual, sit-down chains are facing as traffic declines across the industry.
However, Hummel seems confident that Twin Peaks will be able to set itself apart from the competition.
“Casual dining is competitive,” he told NRN. “We look at everyone who serves food and beverage as a competitor. When you are deciding where to eat, we want you to think of us.”
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