The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Hooters of America, which you will not be surprised to learn is the operator and franchisor of Hooters restaurants, has sued a former vice-president and his new company for allegedly stealing Hooters' trade secrets.
The new company, La Cima Restaurants, is planning to open some restaurants called "Twin Peaks."
The more cynical among you may be thinking that there is nothing especially "secret" about Hooters' game plan, but you have misapprehended the nature of the case. (Disclaimer: our firm actually represents Hooters of America, although not in this case.) It is not based on a claim that Hooters was the first to think of hiring attractive women as waitresses or (thankfully) that nobody else can do so. Instead, according to both the report and the complaint, Hooters alleges that its former VP Joseph Hummel downloaded "sensitive and highly confidential information" such as marketing plans, contracts, and sales figures and took it with him when he went to work for a competitor.
The concept for "Twin Peaks," as I hope you have guessed, is similar to Hooters' except that it is "snow-lodge-style" rather than "beach-themed." If you are thinking, though, that this means the waitresses are warmly clad, you are not correct. Fifteen Twin Peaks restaurants are currently operating in other parts of the country, but La Cima is allegedly planning to open dozens across the South, where they would directly compete with Hooters.
I think there is some irony in the fact that Twin Peaks itself previously sued "Grand Tetons LLC" over the latter's plan to open a series of restaurants called "Northern Exposure."
According to this report, these sorts of establishments – those mentioned above and others, such as "Bone Daddy's" and "Tilted Kilt" – are doing quite well. "At a time when other chain[s] are struggling," the report said, "the so-called 'breastaurants' have been seemingly recession-proof."
Hooters' website is an entertaining read, for a number of reasons. The company does not shy away from the debate over whether its approach is discriminatory or exploitative, and in addition to recounting some of its legal victories, it has this to say:
The chain acknowledges that many consider 'Hooters' a slang term for a portion of the female anatomy. Hooters does have an owl inside its logo and uses an owl theme sufficiently to allow debate to occur over the meaning's intent. The chain enjoys and benefits from this debate. In the end, we hope Hooters means a great place to eat.
Well played, sirs.