In 2005, a uniform designer for the NFL and NBA professional leagues sat down with Randy Dewitt, the owner of Rockfish Restaurants. He had the idea for a new concept, Twin Peaks Restaurants, he told designer Terra Watson, which would compete with concepts like Hooters of America (HOA). Twin Peaks launched, and that conversation also led to what is now known as Breastaurant Uniforms.
"I designed their [Twin Peaks'] sexy lumberjack girl uniform that is the signature piece that brands the business. There are over 15 locations now and 35 in the works," says owner Terra Watson. "After that, we started getting more and more calls for restaurant uniforms that were similar in style to our current cheerleading uniforms."
The increasing presence of brestaurants like Hooters, Twin Peaks, as well as provocative drive-thru coffee shops like Brewlesque Coffee and Sexpresso Coffee Shops, speak to the rising popularity of restaurants that focus on serving hospitality with a whole lot of sex appeal.
In fact, former HOA CEO Coby Brooks recently jumped over to the Twin Peaks concept as a franchisor, and created an investment firm that has brokered a deal to develop 35 Twin Peaks restaurants in six states, according to a Twin Peaks company statement just this month. The deals positions the casual dining Twin Peaks concept to expand in Alabama, Florida, North Carolina, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee.
But with the growth of Breastaurants, who will clothe the waitresses in all these stores and will they invade the fast casual space?
Clearly, the breastaurant space is still evolving and the verdict is still out; but Watson is ready to outfit more fast casual concepts when the time comes. She says her uniforms are perfect for the environment because although many have a simple design and are short, they have "attached shorts underneath and tops that cover the midsection." She suggests the segment start branding with more appeal by using the Breastaurant Uniforms clothing line.
Watson says her uniform line is very affordable, and independent restaurant owners can log in to her store's website and have a new uniform design in about a week. "The great part about Breastaurantuniforms.com is that you don’t have to be a big chain like Twin Peaks to have a great look."
It's not uncommon for breastaurants or sexy-uniformed waitresses to be seen in the South, or to see more restaurants continue lowering necklines and "upping profits," Watson says.But she notes that a central mission of Breastaurant Uniforms is to provide sexy uniforms with a more broad appeal and with an integrated sense of taste.
Breastaurants come under fire by many consumers who voice concerns about women being objectified. Also under scrutiny are some establishments for their practices of going too far to promote the visual appeal of their waitresses and baristas.
Employees can also take matters over the top under such a sexually heightened atmosphere. A 2010 CBS news report cited Sexxpresso coffee shop baristas in the Seattle area getting into hot water while serving up a lot more than hot coffee and whip cream. Another report from a local Seattle news site this month says that another bikini barista, this time at a Snohomish County Java Juggs, used the full-length pole in her drive-thru to commit lewd acts.
Other past reports in the State of Washington about foamy barista acts are the reason these coffee shops just aren't Watson's style.
"I support the creative spirit of a coffee-shop or restaurant attempting to do something different and stand out from the competition, though even the best ideas could sometimes use refinement," says Watson. "The reason so many skimpy uniforms aren't well received by customers is because the server uniforms are often not uniforms at all; they are street clothes hoping to pass as a uniform."
The early days of uniforms offered only two choices: t-shirts or stripper clothes, according to Watson, but now her uniform line adds functionality and safety. "Our breastaurant halter tops are sexy and functional so now there are more choices than a string bikini or a boring t-shirt."
Responding to the overall controversy facing breastaurants, Watson is quick to note that few people outcry when models are flashed on the covers of Cosmo or other style magazines.Waitressing is a great vocation for many young women starting out, she adds, and is a great way to make aliving for them early in life or during college.
She adds that breastaurants "have come a long way." According to Watson, the excess of skin and the poor taste of earlier uniform designs are fading trends. The three-inch-seamed shorts she designs are visually appealing but cover "everything". Pointing to the evolving clientele at breastaurants, such as Twin Peaks, Watson comments that women and families are also starting to frequent the establishments more often because the uniforms are now more stylish and appropriate.
"These days, Breastaurant customers are not limited to male patrons....On any given day, you can go into a Twin Peaks and see lots of women and families," says Watson. "Our uniforms are that perfect blend of fashion and function that makes everyone comfortable."
Breastaurant Uniforms will feature its holiday line starting in late October. In the spring, uniforms will return to more sports-centric themes. Watson invites breastaurant clients and interested restaurateurs to follow the clothing line and hear about giveaways and promotions on the Breastaurant Uniforms Facebook page or on its website.
Think breastaurants aren't here to stay? Twin Peaks Franchise Partner Brooks snagged five HOA executives to support his new 35-unit breastaurant investment venture. These include Joe Hummel, former Executive Vice President of Operations and Purchasing for HOA; Roger Gondek, former Vice President of Company Store Operations for HOA; Clay Mingus, former Vice President and General Counsel for HOA; Jim Tessmer, former Vice President and Controller for HOA; and Patti Frederick, from the estate of the late Bob Brooks, founder of the Hooters concept.
"We have clients that include car washes, beer companies, promotional teams, country clubs, golf clubs and so much more," says Watson. "In fast casual dining, it’s equally important to have an energetic great looking staff. "
And if Watson has her way, she'll be outfitting more breastaurant casual dining concepts and other types of business; fast casual is the next logical evolution in the restaurant line. Expect to see more of Watson's designs (and less of the typical excess uniform material) in restaurant concepts around the country.
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