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Legal spat between 'breastaurants' ends in a bust

Chinese customers enter the newly opened Hooters restaurant in Shanghai in 2004.

REUTERS/REUTERS

A legal battle of "breastaurants" has ended with little more than a pair of press releases.

Duelling announcements this week from Hooters of America LLC and La Cima Restaurants LLC put different spins on the out-of-court settlement. La Cima, led by former Hooters chief executive officer Coby G. Brooks, plans to develop 35 Twin Peaks restaurants in the southeastern United States over the next decade.

Hooters, which franchises and operates more than 430 restaurants known for buxom "All-American Hooters Girls" waitresses, had sued La Cima after another former Hooters executive, Joseph W. Hummel, resigned last year and joined Mr. Brooks there.

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La Cima, which formed in 2011, plans to open its first Twin Peaks franchise in Atlanta in July. The 7-year-old Twin Peaks chain, which has the slogan "Eats, Drinks, Scenic Views," also features scantily clad, big-bosomed waitresses. Currently much smaller than Hooters, Twin Peaks' website says it has "busted out" to more than a dozen locations and that the business "is about you, 'cause you're the man!"

In its federal lawsuit, Hooters claimed that Mr. Hummel downloaded "confidential and proprietary" company information when he resigned last July and later became La Cima's chief operating officer.

Hooters says it was able to secure "the return and/or destruction of all of its misappropriated information" through the now-resolved litigation.

For its part, La Cima issued a press release proclaiming that it was letting Hooters "walk away" without any compensation. The company added that Hooters "conceded" it had no evidence to support its claim.

"La Cima has never had any intention of using any Hooters information," Mr. Brooks said in the release. "[We]have over 117 years of combined Hooters restaurant experience. We don't need their documents; we wrote them."

Meanwhile, so-called breastaurants are popping up across the land. Another entrant, Tilted Kilt, an Arizona-based pub franchise that dresses buxom waitresses in plaid, has one restaurant in Edmonton and is planning more elsewhere in Canada.

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