The Tilted Kilt is bringing growth and uniqueness to restaurant franchising.
What features an average of 35 50” flat screen televisions, women serving beer in minimal Celtic garb and thrives on being a little skewed?
The Tilted Kilt, of course.
And, the chain has been labeled one of the fastest growing in the nation.
That could be because President Ron Lynch is no stranger to the restaurant franchising business. Being an area developer and franchisee for the last 22 years, he was vital in the creation of Schlotzky’s Deli, opening 106 delis until he was bought out in 2000, with the exception of four locations he still owns. But, it was time for a change, Lynch says.
In October of 2005, he started the Tilted Kilt franchise after buying the concept from Mark DiMartino, Shannon Reilly and John Reynaud.
“It was very different,” Lynch says. “Even in the name ‘Tilted,’ it’s a little tilted.”
At the time, the Tilted Kilt had just one location within the Rio Casino Hotel in Las Vegas. Once Lynch got his hands on the company, it would never be the same, moving the headquarters from Las Vegas to Tempe, where he lives.
Lynch’s goal was to bring something different to the casual dining community.
“People have been chasing each other and copying each other for a while in the casual dining segment,” Lynch says. “Therefore, we had a lot of fallout.
“People would choose between certain restaurants in the casual dining segment because of the side of the street they were on. They didn’t want to turn around and go to the other side because the menus were so similar.”
Lynch admits Tilted Kilt does have similar menu items, but they are striving to be different.
“If somebody says to me, ‘Why don’t you do this because everyone else is doing it?’, that usually probably doesn’t work for me,” Lynch says. “I just say, ‘Well, maybe we don’t want to do it because everyone else is doing it.’”
Lynch adds that what sets them apart from their competitors is their atmosphere that customers want to be in.
“People want more than just hot food and good service,” Lynch says. “They like the atmosphere. They like the whole package.”
He says this is why the eateries focus on being sports bars. They try to ensure that at any seat in the house, customers can see three or four televisions at a time to keep up on all the games they might be interested in.
The television count isn’t the only thing attracting customers either. Tilted Kilt waitresses have brought in many male customers over the years.
Dressed in kilts and coordinating push-up bras, Lynch says the franchise doesn’t shy away from the fact that they use sex appeal. He believes customers expect to see a stripper pole when the walk in the doors of the pub. He insists, though, that is not what his franchise is about.
“We take the tradition from the old world pub,” Lynch says.
Traditional public houses began when families would open up their home to travelers. Fathers would cook and tend the bar while mothers and daughters would wait tables.
While they draw a lot of their inspiration from this old world public house style, they “give it a contemporary twist,” Lynch says, which is putting the company in high demand. Lynch says in the next 12 months, there will probably be 100 pubs open — and not just in the U.S.
Canada has one Tilted Kilt location open with three more under construction.
“We are truly becoming more than just a U.S. company,” Lynch says. Now in 22 states and four more by the end of the year, he hopes to have 300 pubs open within five years.
Lynch credits his company’s success with its uniqueness, saying that they revel in it.
With a slogan that reads, “A cold beer never looked so good,” it’s hard to deny that they are pushing the limits.