Waco Restaurant Is Shut Down After Biker Gang Shooting

The Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco had been warned about biker gang meetups before. (Rod Aydelotte/Waco Tribune Herald, via AP)

A Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco, Texas, the scene of Sunday’s violent bike gang shootout that left nine people dead, has been closed amid criticism that management ignored police warnings to keep biker gangs away.

A spokeswoman for the Dallas-based chain told the Tribune-Herald that “the Waco location will be closed and will not reopen.”

Meghan Hecke said it was unclear what would happen with the building, or with a second Twin Peaks operated by the same group that owned the Waco franchise.

Twin Peaks spokesman Rick Van Warner had earlier confirmed that the national chain was revoking Waco’s franchise agreement and stated that the company contacted Jay Patel, the franchise operator, and warned him about possible violence.

“Unfortunately the management team of the franchised restaurant in Waco chose to ignore the warnings and advice from both the police and our company, and did not uphold the high security standards we have in place to ensure everyone is safe at our restaurants,” said Twin Peaks spokesman Rick Van Warner in a statement. “We will not tolerate the actions of this relatively new franchisee and are immediately revoking their franchise agreement. Our sympathies continue to be with the families of those who died and are very thankful no employees, guests, police officers or bystanders were hurt or injured.”

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On Sunday, Waco police department’s Sargent Patrick Swanton accused the so-called breastaurant – which features drink specials and scantily clad waitresses – of failing to cooperate with law enforcement trying to manage the biker gangs. Swanton said that the Waco location had been warned for nearly two months about gang gatherings, but continuously allowed members to hang out and drink beer.

After the violence, Patel said Swanton’s remarks were an absolute fabrication and released this statement:

“Our management team has had ongoing and positive communications with the police and we will continue to work with them as we all want to keep violent crime out of our businesses and community. We will continue to cooperate with the police as they investigate this terrible crime.”

Yet, as the Washington Post points out, many Twin Peaks locations around the country regularly hold “bike nights” – promotions to get biker gangs to gather and drink. It was this type of event that the Waco location was asked to discontinue.

Bikers congregate near the restaurant scene. (Rod Aydelotte/Waco Tribune-Herald via AP)

It’s unclear if the national chain is reconsidering these promotions. In Wichita, two Twin Peaks locations have temporarily suspended bike night promotions, reports the Witchita Eagle.

Twin Peaks restaurant chain was created 10 years ago to compete against Hooters with an aim to serve better food and drink – and edgier female waitresses. The chain’s CEO Randy DeWitt, once told Bloomberg News that “Hooters just wasn’t racy enough,” and female employees are listed on its website as “weapons of mass distraction.”

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The chain promotes itself as the “ultimate sports lodge” with its log cabin interior, TVs everywhere, and upscale bar food.

DeWitt grew the chain to 65 locations last year, with sales of $239 million, 46 percent more than in 2013, according to the food market research firm Technomic. Those figures come amid double digit growth in breastaurant-style eateries nationally.

Yet, in the wake of violence that left nine gang members dead and injured 18 others, some are beginning to question Twin Peaks’ racy business model.

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