The War on Breastaurants
After the deadly shootout in Waco, Texas between biker gangs, I can’t help but wonder if the casual dining experience has gone too far.
Twin Peaks. All images remixed by Carles
After the deadly shootout in Waco, Texas between the Bandidos and the Cossacks biker gangs, I can't help but wonder if the casual dining experience has gone too far. Somehow, the hyper-American experience of casual dining has created the perfect space that is inviting to both suburban families AND unlawful biker gangs who engage in gun warfare during the middle of a Sunday afternoon.
Is this the beginning of the end of the sterile, safe experience that suburban communities find within the casual dining experience?
American chain restaurants are meant to create the most welcoming dining experience for everyone. Families, single adults, teenagers, minorities, the disabled, veterans, the LGBT community, the elderly, and even drug trafficking bikers in gang paraphernalia can appreciate a chain restaurant. Every restaurant is meant to appeal to the broadest tastes of the broadest swab of America. The only culinary risks taken involve spicy sweet and sour sauce and putting an egg on top of a burger.
No one can argue with fatty, fried, sweet, and salty. Wash it down with a domestic beer, or maybe a 'craft' beer-rita, in which you can drop a citrus wedge. There's so many nooks and crannies that you can even find a place to hide your gun.
Is it worth it to risk isolating Middle American suburbanites by attempting to take them on a culinary journey beyond the most obvious flavor profiles? Perhaps this risk is the only way to protect them from the lawless class who now claim chain restaurants as their turf. They are the newest intruders of the suburban dream, ruining the casual dining escape for those who find safety in the uniformity of the sprawl's dining options.
Twin Peaks is not just another casual dining restaurant—it is one of the most successful breastaurants in the history of breastaurants. It was the fastest growing restaurant chain in 2013, moving the breastaurant past the status quo that Hooters set since the 1980s. The concept pushes the limits of the casual dining experience. Of course, American men want appetizers, huge plates, and cold domestic beer on tap. But they also want breasts. They want those large breasts on waitresses who make them feel like they are more than just some other schlub shoveling carbohydrates into their mouths.
Breastaurants like Twin Peaks are the great mutation of the casual dining experience. Are they unnatural, or are they an evolutionary byproduct of the casual dining establishment's goal to have a broad appeal at all costs?
The casual dining experience might be an even bigger battlefield than the fast food space. Places like Cheddar's and BJ's Brewhouse are replacing the chain restaurants of yesteryear like Chili's and TGIFriday's. No one is going Outback tonight. Even Bennigan's is gone. The breastaurant is the perfect way to stay asynchronously appealing to the needs of men.
Sure, breastaurants serve the same approachable sliders, fried chicken, and dippable sauces that other causal chains have been serving for decades. But they also segmented their market to serve large plates and large beers to men who just want to feel like they are getting the attention of a strip club without the guilt of stepping foot in a strip club. You can't just put a titty bar in a suburban shopping center without causing a local uproar. People didn't move to suburbia to drive past a strip club on their way to Bed, Bath & Beyond. They moved to suburbia to have easy access to an infinite array of casual dining options while 'building equity' in an affordable box that they can call home.
Breastaurants are so smart. Because the waitresses keep their clothes on and don't rub their pasty-covered bodies on men during late night hours, the restaurants can still be seen as 'acceptable' chains. It is the lack of contact with the waitresses that keeps breastaurants in the casual dining zone. Twin Peaks branding allows the franchises to fit in nicely into any suburban shopping center, looking just like any other restaurant or craft supply store. It's hard to believe nine people died and almost 200 people were arrested after the Waco Twin Peaks shootout.
Was it the breastaurants that warped the casual dining experience into a space where unlawful bikers feel at home? Or has the suburban experience of casual dining actually created a culinary and architectural space where even the lawless feel at home in the suburban conformity?
A values-based argument might say that the prospect of seeing breasts is what led to this unfortunate gang warfare in the conservative community of Waco. There was just too much masculinity, in search of beer, breasts, and gun fire. Even leaked corporate memos document how employees should stroke the egos of customers as if men are the only people who need their egos stroked.. Somehow breasts on women attracted bikers, guns, and the traffickers of drugs and humans. The 'social desire' of male animals to control turf created bikers AND created the desire to hang out in breastaurants.
Casual dining restaurants have evolved to embody the perfect suburban aesthetic. Every one, including the subconscious masculine desires of the 'manliest' unlawful biker can come have a cold one. The lighting, the seating, and the drink menus are all just too approachable to segregate societal outliers. Every one can find a way to have a good time in America's newest crop of Casual Dining restaurants, even if that means spontaneous violent gang warfare.
Is this the death of the breastaurant?
Is this the death of casual dining as a safe suburban family activity?
Are strip malls the new war zone?
Is suburban violence the only thing that will drive urban development in eternally sprawling cities?
Is this the beginning of the end of casual dining?
Are there movies society should/shouldn't watch to prevent violence?
If there is one great lesson from the Twin Peaks shooting of 2015, it is that we shouldn't eat out. We should strive to live in urban environments that host farmer's markets every weekend. Even though casual dining experiences offer low calories options of chicken breasts and microwaved vegetables, it is up to every consumer to create their own casual dining experience. If you are a man who wants young breasts in your face while you eat, you need to get a girl the old fashioned way—with a high-paying career and attractive body. There are no short cuts to having a perfect pair of twin peaks in your face while you eat overindulgent food prepared by boiling plastic bags.
Whether they are fast food, breastaurants, or standard casual restaurants, dining chains are meant to pop up in suburban areas of the United States. Suburbanites see new franchises coming into their market as a validator of the community. These chains are what give suburban communities a sense of pride, since they created a strong enough market to justify new construction, new jobs, and new culinary experiences for the growing teenage boy within all of us. The make suburban communities and 'small' rural towns that are defined by sprawl feel like Everywhere, USA.
We must not shame the melting pots of queso that turn American restaurants into a network of cultural melting pots. It is the American dream to have all of us under one roof. The Great American Chain restaurant is that gathering place. It is somewhere 'special' where a family can go to celebrate a life milestone. Your family can congregate after a busy week, or as the cherry on top of another Sunday morning at church. Expanding your waistline with hearty portion sizes is one of the freedoms that should be re-written into the Declaration of Independence.
We can't let the unlawful motorcycle gangs win.
If you believe in America, you believe that the casual dining experience can survive the Waco biker shootout. We must believe that the breastaurant is a natural extension of the casual dining industry's fight for survival. Our desire to congregate in a comfy place, sharing comfort food will keep casual dining alive—with or without breasts in our faces.