Financial watchers are divided on how restaurants fare during a downturn in the economy.  Some schools say that the food and restaurant industry is "bullet proof" - and that food is a necessity;  Others say that going out to eat at a restaurant is a "disposable purchase" - one that people tend to cut back on when money is tight.

Either way, one segment of the restaurant industry continues to fare well - despite bad economic news:  so called "breastaurants".

The nation’s top three “breastaurant” chains behind Hooters each had sales growth of 30 percent or more last year, according to Technomic, a food industry research firm. They still represent less than 1 percent of the nation’s top restaurants, but the upstart chains are benefitting as other mid-priced options like Applebee’s and Bennigan’s have experienced declines during the economic downturn.

Some come for the atmosphere.  Some come for the food.  Some even bring their kids.

Tovan Adams says he frequents Tilted Kilt Pub & Eatery in Tempe, Ariz., where waitresses wear matching tartan mini-skirts and bras that fit in with the restaurant’s Celtic theme. He even brings his daughters, ages 6 and 9, with him for lunch.

“If you come in the evening, you’ll see a lot of kids here,” says Adams, an electric engineer who likes the menu’s variety. “Everyone’s still got their clothes on. If you go to the beach, it’s a lot worse than being here.”

Another reason that the restaurant-segment is flourishing:  Improved menu options.  Just like a lot of chain restaurants around the country, Hooters et al has made a conscious effort recently to elevate the food they serve.

In a tiny corner of the restaurant industry, Hooters-style eateries are booming - The Washington Post.