Tilted Kilt Pub & Eatery really understands how to utilize Hospitality Checkpoint Spotter Reports

By Michael Zenner

The Tilted Kilt Pub & Eatery is a fantastically successful concept and one of our best Hospitality Checkpoint Spotter clients. They are growing by leaps and bounds, and all in a down economy; that really says something.

In my opinion, the Tilted Kilt’s success and wonderful growth pattern can be contributed to one single word – QUALITY. The Tilted Kilt designs their concept with a series of checks and balances to ensure that their vision of “quality” is always executed according to their franchise theme.

If you go to McDonald’s and order a Big Mac, whether in San Diego or Boston, you expect to get the exact same sandwich. Tilted Kilt fully understands this consistency concept and implements it very well with their franchisees. I have personally toured their Tempe based franchise training facility and was HIGHLY impressed. The training really covers the gamut of their concept. There’s even a full bar and test kitchen inside. This really helps set up there franchisees for success right from the beginning.

With that said, hospitality checkpoint has been a vendor for the Tilted Kilt from their near beginning. We perform bartender theft integrity spots and restaurant service mystery shops in all of their stores nationwide. Our services are very unique and if used properly, can be utilized with incredible results. Tilted Kilt understands this.

Hospitality Checkpoint helps them report on bartender theft issues and overall conduct and level of service are upheld to their standards. This provides them with information when discussing operations with their franchisees. The franchises can then in turn use our reports to better train their employees. Moreover, our reports help the Tilted Kilt to keep a finger on the pulse of each and every one of their locations. This can be invaluable information for them to take action if one of the pubs is deviating from their franchise norm. Hospitality Checkpoint coins this the “Franchise Compliance.” It’s near impossible for the Tempe based corporation to have a bird’s eye view of the operations of each and every one of their Tilted Kilt franchises. Hospitality Checkpoint becomes their necessary eyes and ears of each establishment.

Tilted Kilt is very concerned with maintaining their franchise “system of systems.” Hospitality Checkpoint and their reports help them maintain this and report back to them, via our detailed reports, when deviations occur.

For instance, adherence to the Tilted Kilt costume is vitally important. Hospitality Checkpoint spotters report back when they view employees not in compliance – and usually with photographic evidence.

The Tilted Kilt has a strict policy that franchisees are not allowed to post literature or hang posters that first, are not approved by the corporate office, and second must have the Tilted Kilt official logo present. Our spotters again report back to the corporate office if this franchise rule is broken – again many times with photographic evidence to support the claim.

As a vendor, hospitality checkpoint operates as the Tilted Kilt Franchise Compliance Testers. Tilted Kilt is always looking ahead; however, and more importantly, they also continuously look behind, to be sure that the concept is maintained correctly and hospitality checkpoint is there to help them do this.

Celtic-themed sports bar concept gains momentum

Tempe businessman Ron Lynch saw a winning franchise concept the minute he stepped into the Tilted Kilt at the Rio hotel in Las Vegas.

The Celtic-themed sports bar, with its publike ambiance, imported ales, Scottish food and sexy servers, was something new and different that hadn’t been done. “It was like an upscale Hooters with a Scottish accent,” Lynch said, referring to the restaurant chain known for its buxom female servers.

But instead of Hooters’ sporty outfits, the Tilted Kilt’s female servers wore knee-high socks, short plaid kilts and white camp shirts. Like Hooters Girls, the so-called Kilt Girls come off as sexy, but the idea is they don’t cross the line into sleazy. “They looked like the girl next door, only with a kilt,” said Lynch, who played basketball for the University of Oklahoma under longtime Phoenix Suns coach John MacLeod.

By walking the fine line between sexy and sleazy, businesses can use sex appeal as a draw and still maintain enough respectability to be generally accepted at most malls and shopping centers. That model has allowed Atlanta-based Hooters to grow into a chain of 455 restaurants in 44 states and many foreign countries. It’s a success story that Lynch hopes to repeat.

Expanding in a downturn

The Tilted Kilt was developed in 2003 by Las Vegas restaurateur Mark DiMartino,who wanted to add an element of sex appeal to the Rio hotel’s sports bar. After all, it was Las Vegas.

Lynch quickly recognized the Tilted Kilt as a concept that would also work outside Las Vegas and in 2005 acquired rights to franchise the concept.He set up headquarters in Tempe and started selling franchises in 2006. There are 36 Tilted Kilt locations open in 14 states and an additional 22 under development. Tilted Kilt ranked third overall on Restaurant Business’ 2010 “Future 50” list, which ranks the fastest-growing franchises in the restaurant industry.

While the recession may have slowed the chain’s potential growth, Tilted Kilt has continued to expand and will have about 50 locations open by the end of the year, during prime football season, Lynch said. Tilted Kilt sports bars are 6,000 to 9,000 square feet, significantly larger than a Hooters, and more elaborately furnished to achieve the ambiance of a Scottish pub. The Tempe location has 15 large flat-screen televisions, but some locations have as many as 40. There are 24 beers on tap in Tempe; some franchises offer double that. It cost $75,000 to buy a Tilted Kilt franchise but as much as $1.8 million to get one up and running, depending on the size and location of the outlet.

There are four Tilted Kilt locations open in the Valley, with a fifth scheduled to open early next year at the CityScape development in downtown Phoenix. The 9,000-square-foot CityScape location, near the downtown Phoenix sports venues, will be the company’s flagship location in the Valley and do double duty as a training ground for new franchisees. Phoenix area businessman Mark Voss owns two Tilted Kilt franchises in Mesa and Denver and is pleased with the results so far. “It’s one of the few restaurant chains that have been growing,” he said. Voss’ Denver location, a few blocks from the Coors Field baseball stadium, is currently the highest-grossing location in the chain. “It has elements that appeal to people on a lot of different levels,” he said.

Another top franchise is near the entrance to Petco Park baseball stadium in San Diego. The company’s biggest market so far is Chicago, with numerous professional sports franchises and six Tilted Kilt locations. For the $75,000 franchise fee, franchisees get the rights to use the name and concept, help getting their restaurants open, and ongoing marketing and product support.

Quality standards

New franchisees typically attend a monthlong training session in Tempe where they learn every aspect of running a Tilted Kilt franchise, from hiring Kilt Girls to cooking food. The first week is focused on maintaining the integrity of the Tilted Kilt brand and that fine line between sexy and sleazy. “It could come off as seedy, if you’re not careful,” Lynch said.

To prevent that, Kilt Girls and Kilt Boys, who work as bartenders, undergo rigorous training and are held to strict personal-appearance standards. They cannot have large visible tattoos, pierced body parts or over-the-top hairstyles. “It’s important to maintain the wholesome cheerleader image,” Lynch said. The uniforms, or costumes, must be worn in a certain way to avoid being overly suggestive. Male bartenders’ kilts must be worn snugly around the waist and not on the hips.

“We do a costume check before each employee goes on shift,” said Kristin Cronhardt, Tilted Kilt’s vice president of marketing. The chain is very aware that it could come off as sexist and takes strides to avoid that perception. In the past Hooters has been hit with employment-discrimination suits from men who claim they were denied employment because of their sex and women who say they were passed over for jobs because they were overweight. “Thirty percent of our customers are women, and we go out of our way to make sure they are not offended,” Cronhardt said. If there is a table with both men and women present, Cronhardt said servers are trained to always approach the women first. Top Kilt Girls can gain extra recognition by appearing in the company’s annual calendar, which is distributed to suppliers and patrons. The calendars feature a photo of the women in their work outfits and another wearing something more casual – like a bathing suit.


YOU TUBE INTERVIEW WITH TILTED KILT CEO – Tilted Kilt President Ron Lynch on his restaurant chains concept and success.



Michael Zenner CEO      
hospitality checkpoints Inc.

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