The first Tilted Kilt pub in Maine opened this week in South Portland. And while the skimpy uniforms worn by the female servers have raised a few eyebrows, local franchise owner Dave DuBois said the chain is “really so classy” and “family-oriented.”
His goal with opening the Tilted Kilt, at the former Newick’s restaurant near The Maine Mall, is to provide a sports bar and sit-down restaurant that is all about “the food and the camaraderie.”
DuBois and his wife, Joy, also own a number of Little Caesars pizza franchises in mid-coast and central Maine and DuBois said the couple “looked at a lot of different concepts” before deciding to go with the Tilted Kilt.
He believes the pub and restaurant will be “a great fit” and said “we wanted to be a full-service restaurant with a fun bar atmosphere.” To that end, the restaurant is outfitted with 58 large-screen televisions and DuBois has signed up for “all the Direct TV sports packages.”
He described the red and black plaid mini-kilts and push-up bras worn by the female servers as “G-rated” and said, “there’s nothing over the line,” here. In fact his 10-year-old son, Jack, has been on hand as the restaurant held a couple soft opening events last week and got ready to open its doors to the public on Monday.
Before opening the local Tilted Kilt, DuBois said he and his wife visited the one in Nashua, N.H., and also flew out to Arizona, where the chain is headquartered.
When it comes to the uniforms of the so-called “Kilt Girls,” DuBois said, “we feel it truly empowers the girls and they’re all excited to be here.” And it’s not just the women who are required to wear kilts. The male employees also wear black kilts and T-shirts while on duty.
DuBois said a single mother raising two children, who just earned her GED, is typical of the servers at his restaurant. He said she’s thrilled to find work at a place that allows her to set her own hours, take some college classes and also make enough money to support her family.
South Portland Mayor Tom Blake was at one of the VIP events held at the Tilted Kilt last week and said, “There were no issues when this (business) came to the council and no one from the public was opposed.”
When granting the business and other licenses required by the Tilted Kilt, Blake said, every city department was given a chance to comment or raise concerns but none of them did.
Blake called the DuBois’ “great people” and said the key to a clean operation is the ownership.
“I know at some of these restaurants across the country there have been issues, but they know we expect them to run a clean business here,” Blake said this week.
He also said the city had no grounds to “oppose a legitimate business” and said that, “reputable businesses are always welcome in South Portland.”
Josh Reny, the city’s assistant city manager and economic development director, told the Current that it’s much better for South Portland to see business coming in rather than closing.
Like Blake, he reiterated that the Tilted Kilt has met all local requirements to operate and said the number of new jobs created is also a boost to the local economy.
DuBois said he’s already hired about 75 employees and will likely hire about 25 more “once we get rolling.” While most of those employees work part time, the restaurant does have six full-time positions, as well.
When asked why he wanted to open his new restaurant in South Portland, DuBois said the city is “the retail heartbeat of southern Maine,” adding, “It’s a fun and vibrant community and we’re excited to be part of it.”
When asked what makes the Tilted Kilt different, DuBois mentioned its Celtic theme, great food and drinks and the sexy servers.
The company website says that at a Tilted Kilt Pub & Eatery “good times are always on tap. That’s because we’re more than just a restaurant, and so much more than a sports bar. Our fun, festive atmosphere makes us the go-to place to watch sports, enjoy a cold beer and hang out with friends.”
The menu includes more than 50 draft and bottled beers and an extensive spirit selection, and at his new local franchise DuBois said he was careful to choose a number of locally made draft beers.
He’s also likely to add more local specialty food items, such as lobster rolls in the summertime. And, the macaroni and cheese dish has already received an enthusiastic thumbs-up from his son.
The company website also says the original restaurant concept for the Tilted Kilt Pub & Eatery was developed in the Rio Hotel in Las Vegas in 2003. “We’re proud to offer authentic pub fare and craft beer with a side of sexy servers that pays homage to the old public houses of America, England, Scotland and Ireland,” the website states.
In all, there are more than 100 Tilted Kilt restaurants located across North America.
Rob Simmons, a South Portland firefighter and member of the Guns ‘N Hoses Pipe Band of Maine, which was hired to provide bagpipe music for the Tilted Kilt’s opening events, said he’s aware that some are not thrilled with the uniforms worn by the female servers.
But, he said, anyone passing by the Victoria’s Secret store at The Maine Mall would “see much worse” in terms of revealing clothing.
Simmons has also had an opportunity to try various menu items and talk with many of the servers and said as far as he can tell the new Tilted Kilt is “absolutely wonderful,” with a great staff.
“They’re personable and outgoing and they want to be here,” he said. And, Simmons added, it’s great to see the restaurant back on the city’s tax rolls instead of sitting empty.”