Since franchising the Tempe-based Tilted Kilt Pub & Eatery in 2006, Ron Lynch has been on a mission to open the contemporary, Celtic-themed sports pub concept staffed with beautiful servers in sexy plaid kilts and matching plaid bras in every city and town in America. His personal and professional journey will unfold on national television as he investigates the inner workings of Tilted Kilt pubs across the United States in the hit CBS series “Undercover Boss,” Friday, Nov. 9 at 8 p.m. on the CBS Television Network.
“Being 6 foot 6 inches tall with a very recognizable look and voice has made it difficult in the past for me to visit our locations without being recognized,” said Lynch. “Going undercover allowed me to step into the shoes of our employees and franchise partners to better learn the ins and outs of what makes our company successful, as well as see objectively where there is room for improvement.”
Adding that the company never stops looking for ways to evolve and improve, Lynch noted that the experience was a once in a lifetime opportunity to share his story and hopefully inspire other leaders to look deeper into the everyday experiences of their employees to create a better culture that fosters a family environment.
Lynch’s own family is very involved in the day to day business of Tilted Kilt. Employees at the Tempe-based corporate office that are family members include his brother, wife and two daughters. It was important for the President to see if the family culture cultivated at the home office was spread to the more than 70 locations existing today.
The Tilted Kilt brand is fueled by Lynch’s commitment to The Code of the Clan Tilted Kilt by which he expects every person at every level of the organization to operate. The code embodies the values of pride, integrity, respect, strong work ethic and fun. Lynch believes in building customer loyalty through exceptional service and commitment to family and community.
“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,” said Lynch. “I am responsible for spreading the concept, upholding brand standards and ultimately delivering the idea that ‘A Cold Beer Never Looked So Good.’ Participating in ‘Undercover Boss’ allowed me to see if those standards were being delivered to our customers and make changes to our company that will ensure they will be in the future. I am very grateful for this experience and have so much respect for all of the employees who work in the various positions of our organization.”
Through his “Undercover Boss” experience, Lynch gained valuable insight into key areas of the business that he will continue to fine-tune and improve in the coming months. Jobs that he participated in during the experience include bartender, line-cook, manager and busser/security guard.
Each week, the Emmy Award-winning “Undercover Boss,” which is just starting its fourth season, follows a different executive as they leave the comfort of their corner office for an undercover mission to examine the inner workings of their companies. While working alongside their employees, they see the effects their decisions have on others, where the problems lie within their organizations and get an up-close look at both the good and the bad while discovering and rewarding the unsung heroes who make their companies run.
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.