Recently, a war has been playing itself out in the opinion section of my local newspaper, The Daily News Record. This conflict is waged over the opening of a new restaurant at the Valley Mall in Harrisonburg called The Tilted Kilt.
So what’s the big deal, you might ask? Well, one of the unique features of this establishment concerns the appearance of their employees. Their well-endowed all-female server staff wears short plaid kilts (though they look a bit more like mini-skirts than kilts), a matching top, which accentuates their physical features, and a tied shirt that leaves the midriff more or less completely exposed.
Many in the religious community, especially the Valley Family Forum, have strongly condemned the Tilted Kilt, declaring it to be blight on the Shenandoah Valley and a place that sexually exploits and objectifies their women servers as well as their male clientele. Others, however, including one local church, see the Kilt in a positive aspect, as it is a place that offers new food choices as well as a variety of jobs to citizens.
Yesterday, along with a couple of friends, I visited this establishment to learn a bit more about the controversy first hand. Given the animosity in the newspaper, I was a bit surprised that there were no angry protestors picketing outside.
Communicating with the wait staff was a bit of a challenge at first; given the abundance of cleavage, one did have to try hard not to stare. However, as my cousin pointed out, is there too much difference between the Kilt attire and spending a day at the beach? I ordered a cup of their chili.
After the meal, I took a bit of time to speak with our waitress regarding her experiences. Perhaps defying stereotypes, she was fairly well educated, a college graduate. Although she too expected an angry barrage of folks outside the restaurant when it first opened, she stated that protests have been pretty minimal thus far.
So, what do you think about the Tilted Kilt in the culturally conservative Shenandoah Valley? Is it a boon or a burden? Is it simply another restaurant trying a new tactic to earn a buck or is it degrading to its employees and customers?
Either way, if you do ever plan on stopping in either to gauge the controversy for yourself or for a bite to eat, I’d recommend against the chili; a few too many onions and not quite enough spice for my tastes.