A 'Breastaurant' That Turns The Tables
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
They're called breastaurants (ph), casual dining chains like Hooters, Twin Peaks and Tilted Kilt Pub. These dining spots do really well in Texas. And this year, a new restaurant opened in Dallas. But instead of female waitresses wearing miniskirts, this place features male waiters in bikini shorts. KERA's Lauren Silverman went to check out the place called Tallywackers.
LAUREN SILVERMAN, BYLINE: Let's start with the name, Tallywackers.
RODNEY DUKE: I've always used the word Tallywackers as a place that I wanted to call it. And it's a southern term, you know? My grandfather used the word.
SILVERMAN: Rodney Duke is owner and creator of Tallywackers. From the wood table where we sat, the place almost looks like your average sports bar, football on the big screens, girls in heels at the bar picking at fries. Then you see the buff, shirtless men in skin-tight short shorts carrying trays of hot dogs.
DUKE: My goal here was to create a place that if you wanted to come and have a great time and have hot food and hotter servers, that we could offer it to you.
SILVERMAN: Duke had been thinking about opening this chestaurant (ph) for more than a decade. He wanted to attract both women and gay men. When it finally opened in May, the line was out the door. And there were families, too.
DUKE: We're a family restaurant. There's not anything inappropriate going on here.
UNIDENTIFIED MEN: Happy birthday to you from Tallywackers.
SILVERMAN: Maria Munoz was celebrating her 22nd birthday with family from Fort Worth. While the waiters sang, danced and flexed their muscles for photos, her friend Isabel Hinojosa bottle-fed her baby girl. Hinojosa says Hooters is fine, but...
ISABEL HINOJOSA: It's about time they made one for women, a place for women to go to.
PAUL FREEDMAN: I think it's a great business idea. It doesn't appeal to me aesthetically, frankly, but that's just me.
SILVERMAN: Paul Freedman is a history professor at Yale. Yes, the medieval food expert has a place in this story. He's written about some of the first restaurants to cater specifically to women back in the 1850s. They were called ice cream saloons.
FREEDMAN: And these places did ban alcohol. They served light food, light entrees, sweet desserts, elaborate ice cream desserts. And this is what you find still today, the notion that women want to have - you know, are sort of finicky when it comes to salads, or they want tofu.
SILVERMAN: A big difference from the wings and burgers on the menu at most breastaurants. At Tallywackers, salad is on the menu. So are more hearty options, chicken-fried chicken, shrimp and grits, the S&M burger - that's for Swiss and mushroom, of course - and lots of one-pound hot dogs.
ANTHONY RICHARDSON: The food actually is really, really good.
SILVERMAN: Anthony Richardson is sitting with his friend Julia Drue on a black leather couch in the lounge area. Richardson is gay, and Drue is straight. They both are enjoying the eye candy.
RICHARDSON: It's sort of a male version of Hooters. I don't know, but I like it.
SILVERMAN: Texas is home to a handful of casual dining spots with women in skimpy outfits, Redneck Heaven, Bone Daddy's, Twin Peaks and, yes, Hooters does its best business in the Lone Star State. Still, owner Rodney Duke was a bit concerned about turning the tables with Tallywackers.
DUKE: I mean, we are in a very conservative state. And I was a little fearful when we first opened this up, you know, to make sure that we were doing it in the right place. But Dallas is my home. I felt comfortable here. I wanted to do it here in Dallas.
SILVERMAN: Duke seems confident Tallywackers will catch on. He says they've already gotten inquiries about franchising from Asia, Europe and Canada. For now, at least in Dallas, the restaurant is uniting people, men and women, gay and straight, over a common love for hot dogs. For NPR News, I'm Lauren Silverman in Dallas. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.