Hooters was once the only restaurant in town that lured customers by using scantily dressed waitresses, but a new surge in the number of similar "breastaraunts" across the country is raising concerns about the harm being done to both women and children who are exposed to this blatant objectification of women.
"We believe in feeding the ego before feeding the stomach," says Randy DeWitt, owner of the growing Twin Peaks restaurant chain.
According to its website, they offer customers comfort food, cold beer, state-of-the-art flat screens in a woodsy mountain lodge setting.
" . . . (T)o top it off, it's all offered up by our most prized assets: the friendly, attentive, and beautiful Twin Peaks Girls," the site promises.
Smaller, Hooters-style "breastaurants" such as Twin Peaks are seeing a spike in sales of more than 30 percent or more in the last year.
One example is the Tilted Kilt Pub & Eatery which features girls dressed in short kilts and revealing bra-tops and bills itself as the "best looking sports pub you've ever seen." CEO Rod Lynch says the success of his business is based on more than just the sex appeal of his wait staff and claims that he's offended when anyone refers to his pub as a "breastaurant" (although not enough to stop insisting that his waitresses wait tables while nearly topless). Last year, the pubs raked in $124 million, reflecting a growth of 33 percent. They expect to have 95 locations in operation by the end of this year, up from 57 at the end of 2011.
The Mugs N Jugs chain in Florida, featuring waitresses in short-shorts and low-cut black tanks is even more disturbing because it bills itself as a family restaurant. Offering game rooms, pool tables and karaoke, owner Sam Ahmad of Mugs N Jugs in Clearwater says 40 percent of his customers are family. Unfortunately, children are being brought into the restaurants to enjoy these entertainments where they are exposed to women who present themselves to the public as sex objects.
Breastaurants may be enjoying a booming business, but they are offensive to many, especially when they expose children to this distorted image of womankind.
"If it's an adult entertainment business, that's fine," says Mona Lisa Wallace, president of the San Francisco chapter of the National Organization for Women. "Where they're crossing the line is when they expose young children to the objectification of women."
Among his many writings on the dignity of women, Pope John Paul II specifically condemned the commercial exploitation of women in his Letter to Women.
"Nor can we fail, in the name of the respect due to the human person, to condemn the widespread hedonistic and commercial culture which encourages the systematic exploitation of sexuality and corrupts even very young girls into letting their bodies be used for profit."
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