Meet the 'breastaurant': Sin is in at these booming eateries

At some restaurants, the seven deadly sins aren't just vices: They're big business, too.

By channeling the lust and gluttony of its patrons, these restaurants have delivered blockbuster growth in an industry that has struggled to move the sales needle.

Following the model pioneered by the Hooters chain with scantily clad waitresses and ice cold beer, Twin Peaks saw sales soar 45 percent last year. That made it the fastest-growing full-service large chain in America, according to Technomic's top 500 restaurants report.

Twin Peaks restaurant
Source: Twin Peaks Restaurants

Another chain encouraging vice, Fogo de Chão, also made the top five fastest-growing restaurant chains.

"We talk about weapons of mass distraction as one of our branding points," said Kristen J. Colby, Twin Peaks' senior director of marketing, in a phone interview.

The chain sees itself as the "ultimate sports lodge" with TVs everywhere and classic, made-from-scratch bar food, such as Buffalo wings, and more adventurous picks like a venison chili burgers.

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Twin Peaks is the fastest growing member of the "breastaurant" restaurant category of chains that prove sex appeal can help drive meal appeal. Competitor Tilted Kilt saw total sales rise 5 percent last year with a Celtic-themed sports bar concept.

"I think people are looking for more," said Ron Lynch, president and founder of Tilted Kilt's franchising brand. "If they are going to spend hard-earned money, they want to get good food and be entertained at the same time."

Lynch stressed that Tilted Kilt, which began in Las Vegas, did not just set out to copy Hooters, an early forerunner of the "breastaurant" category. One requirement of waitresses is they have to fit in the chain's costumes.

"[I]t's extra small, small, medium, and we don't make a large," Lynch said.

16 different meats!

Like Twin Peaks, Tilted Kilt said the majority of its customers are men. The ratio of men to women diners is roughly 75 to 25. "We do have loyal female customers, and I hear them say, 'We enjoy coming here because this is where the guys are,' " he added.

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At Brazilian steakhouse Fogo de Chão, it's not lust but gluttony that's the guilty pleasure motivating some patrons. The indulgent chain has an all-you-can eat option with 16 different fire-roasted meats that guests can sample.

Like Twin Peaks, Fogo sales surged last year to the tune of 19 percent.

Creating unique experiences like those at Tilted Kilt or Twin Peaks is key for chains to differentiate themselves in the restaurant space, says Darren Tristano, executive vice president at food industry research firm Technomic, in a phone interview.

"I think it's crucial going forward to have a sustainable and growth oriented approach you have to be able to do something uniquely different and do something better," he said.

Correction: This article has been corrected to include updated figures from Technomic for full-service restaurant rankings.