The Worst Restaurant Uniforms Of All Time

Wearing a dorky restaurant uniform is something many of us have done at one point or another. Some might even say that trudging home in company-issued khakis after a hard day behind the register, head bowed and visor in hand, is a character-building experience that shapes our work ethic and helps us grow as people. For certain restaurants, however, the uniforms are so inexplicably bad that simply trying them on is an exercise in mental fortitude. And we're just going to say it, why is the female waitstaff usually subjected to the most gimmicky or objectifying outfits?

A terrible restaurant uniform is characterized by one or more of the following traits. First, it must look tacky, or at the very least, ridiculous. The human who dons this uniform must feel a twinge of embarrassment when they step out in public. Second, it often relies on a sartorial shtick that makes it hard for onlookers to tell if you're going to work or decided to wear a weird costume for personal reasons. Finally, it may be a tactic of the restaurant to distract patrons from underwhelming food. 

What do dueling breastaurants, themed eateries, and a heritage hot dog stand all have in common? They've all earned a spot on our list of the worst restaurant uniforms of all time. Read on for a full report on the food industry's biggest fashion victims.

Subtlety is not on the menu at Twin Peaks

What's a breastaurant you ask? Well, Twin Peaks for one, but you might be more familiar with the high priest of breastaurants: Hooters. Skimpy waitress uniforms are nothing new, but the dress code for female servers at Twin Peaks is better suited for a nightclub than a dining establishment. Sexist slogans are unabashedly displayed on the restaurant website, which invites you to "Experience the lodge Mantality." So much for women's lib!

Twin Peaks plays up the woodsy, mountain lodge motif throughout its interior, but as the restaurant's name implies, most of the (male) patronage dine here to ogle the waitresses while digging into a plate of not-that-special bar food. Female servers are expected to don a red and black checked shirt reminiscent of lumberjack workwear, only the shirt is a bralette with sleeves. Navel-baring mini shorts, a belt, and fur-trimmed winter boots complete the outfit because, of course, it's important for your feet to stay warm while you work half-naked.

It's troubling enough that the women working at Twin Peaks are generally expected to be young and fulfill a certain body type that's highly non-inclusive, but restaurant-led themes like "lingerie week" require waitresses to wear getups that are even more revealing than the everyday uniform — like a bra and panties — which has resulted in some Twin Peaks servers being handed citations for indecent exposure from local law enforcement.

Heart Attack Grill: A costume party with a dark side

One of the more disturbing restaurant concepts out there is the Heart Attack Grill in downtown Las Vegas, which parodies the omnipresence of diet culture by promoting obesity and an overall unhealthy lifestyle. "Patients" at the Heart Attack Grill slip on hospital gowns and are served by waitresses clothed in red and white sexy nurse dresses. With a catchphrase like "Fighting Anorexia since 2005," and advertising that guests weighing over 350 pounds eat for free (yes there are scales on site), it's hardly surprising that these waitresses — er, nurses — are tasked with paddling the backsides of diners who cannot finish all of the food they ordered.

The cleavage-flaunting nurse uniform is just one questionable aspect of the restaurant's environment. Nurses are encouraged to kiss the faces and sit on the laps of morbidly obese patients. Plus, they don't get to dress as doctors the way the male employees do. Instead, they serve menu items like the Octuple Bypass Burger with a smile, a nearly 20,000-calorie meal that Heart Attack Grill's website describes as having eight half-pound hamburger patties and 40 slices of bacon. If you finish it, your nurse will transport you out of the restaurant in a wheelchair. The worst part? Some sexy nurses were reportedly told by management to record cell phone footage of customers having real-life cardiac emergencies in the restaurant so that the videos could be leaked to the press for publicity.

Bors Hede Inne: What's Old English for it's hot in this thing?

A far cry from breastaurant uniforms, Bors Hede Inne, located on the property of the Camlann Medieval Village in Carnation, Washington, requires employees to undergo full old-world immersion during their shift. That means traditional medieval garb for its waitstaff, which for women is made up of a white, cloth head covering, an apron (which could double as a head covering if needed), and a drab-colored, ankle-length shift dress that conjures up images of the Amish, monks, or a little bit of both.

At least at Bors Hede Inne, men don't get off too easy either. Since Camlann Medieval Village is proudly kicking it back to 1376, male garb consists of a long-sleeved, belted tunic (that's code for a dress) topped off by a hooded capelet and the 14th century's answer to skinny jeans. Headgear for guys includes an ivory bonnet with the strings worn loose and a felt cap over top.

We appreciate the dedication Bors Hede Inne has to authenticity (there is no electricity in the dining room and only cash or check is accepted), so it's understandable that the uniforms are going to be a little out there. What we can't help but think about is how hot it must get in the summer months under all those layers — especially when doing a cooking demonstration in front of an open hearth.

Culver's employees have to wear a necktie and a visor

At a glance, the uniform at Culver's — a fast-food favorite that originated in the Midwest — doesn't seem that terrible, but it's still a look that tests employees' self-confidence. Have you ever gotten dressed in the morning and thought that strapping a visor across your forehead would really tie your outfit together? 

Neither have we, but if you're part of Culver's "True Blue Crew," you may need to get comfortable with this divisive accessory. Opting for a baseball cap is a slightly more attractive alternative, but it hardly takes away from the fact that casual headgear and a short-sleeved button-down with a necktie is a look only Forrest Gump could pull off.

What makes restaurant uniforms like Culver's awful is that they don't resemble anything most people would want to wear in real life. Fast-food uniforms have always skewed toward the goofy side, but the sartorial mistake Culver's makes is being too buttoned up. Casual dining uniforms that include a necktie come off as dated, and at fast-food restaurants, they just seem out of place. 

Culver's employees tend to agree, with some sounding off on social media, stating that the uniform is "uncomfortable" and pointing out that "nobody thinks this is attractive." The good news? It appears that some locations have picked up on the fact the uniform is too stiff and allow employees to wear a polo or a Culver's t-shirt instead.

Dress like a toddler attending the circus at Hot Dog on a Stick

Fast-food employees who lament about having to wear a visor to work should be thankful their employer didn't take the Hot Dog on a Stick approach and make them wear an upside-down pail on their head. Women (again) draw the short end of the hot dog stick and are the ones who don the upside-down pail hat, while boys get to wear a run-of-the-mill, solid blue baseball cap. Come on already!

East Coast inhabitants may not be familiar with Hot Dog on a Stick, conceived in Santa Monica, California, back in 1946, but its influence in the hot dog business has spread far and wide — partially thanks to its memorable, albeit childish, uniform. Older incarnations of the uniform made use of polka-dots rather than stripes, and the patterned smock dress and a floppy beret-style hat definitely suited the mod aesthetic in the mid-1960s. 

When the uniform shifted to a more gender-neutral look, the now iconic pail hat made its workers instantly recognizable. The uniform has been referenced in pop culture many times over, in films like "Charlie's Angels" and more recently as the chosen Halloween costume of Kourtney Kardashian — who completed the look with an official Hot Dog on a Stick fanny pack.

The Tilted Kilt: Where beer and sexism go hand in hand

One read-through of the Tilted Kilt website is enough to make you wonder why yet another chain restaurant would choose to portray its female staff in a way that borders on misogyny. Its slogan, "A Cold Beer Never Looked So Good" is eye-roll inducing enough, but the popular pub sets feminism back by about 50 years with statements referencing "our World Famous Tilted Kilt Girls. Beautiful and ever so friendly, everyone is eager to put a smile on your face and an ice cold beer in your hand."

Then there's the uniform. Tilted Kilt's direct competition includes Hooters and Twin Peaks, but the daily dress code might be the most ridiculous out of the three. The tartan midriff top with a plunging neckline that ties at the front bears many similarities to the one female employees of Twin Peaks wear. Rather than sporting tiny shorts, Tilted Kilt Girls are obligated to work in a pleated micro mini that looks like the bottom half of a sexy schoolgirl costume rather than an actual kilt. A coin purse worn around the waist, white knee-high socks, and low-heeled mary jane shoes round out the uniform that tastelessly represents Celtic customs and fetishized, more than flatters, the female body.

National garb is a longtime tradition at Al Johnson's Swedish Restaurant & Butik

We aren't going to dismiss the traditional Scandinavian folkdräkt (folk costume in Swedish) that closely resembles the more well-known German dirndl as hideous, but pulling on a form-fitting national costume on a near-daily basis isn't for everyone. Unless you take a job at Al Johnson's Swedish Restaurant & Butik in Sister Bay, Wisconsin, that is. Waitresses here must embrace the longstanding uniform of a red or blue corset-like top laced over a ruffle-trimmed white blouse, a mid-length skirt, and a coordinating apron. 

Al Johnson's Swedish Restaurant & Butik has been in business since 1949 and prides itself on treating guests to an authentic experience. This means the waitresses are always dressed for midsommar and you may hear the rapping of goat hooves overhead as they frolic on the restaurant's sod roof.

This outfit doesn't look the most comfortable, and it's probably incredibly difficult to keep clean during a busy shift. Challenges aside, if you're looking for a work uniform that can take you from the dining room to the Maypole dance, Al's Johnson's Swedish Restaurant & Butik fits the brief.

Borderless servers are required to wear a ... stewardess uniform?

Apparently, a lot of things are amiss at Borderless, a Singapore-themed restaurant located in Beijing, China — including the uniforms. The decision to outfit waitresses in a replica of the stewardess uniform made famous by Singapore Air is pretty weird. For those who aren't familiar, the airline's "Singapore Girl" has been part of its image since the 1970s. The Singapore Girl wears a traditional garment called a sarong kebaya, a colorful two-piece ensemble with a floral batik pattern.

The unique stewardess attire is easily identifiable, especially to Asian travelers, and diners at Borderless seemed amused to see the waitresses playing the part. Between the uniforms and baffling English translations of dishes like "Grasp the sand bone" (whatever that means), people were getting a kick out of the gimmicks. 

Want to guess who wasn't amused? Yup, Singapore Air. According to Marketing-Interactive, shortly after images of Borderless waitresses began circulating through the internet in April 2022, the airline contacted the restaurant and implored them to stop copying its trademark uniform.

The Pirate's Den uniform was a 1940s experiment in cosplay

The Pirate's Den was the brainchild of one of American history's unsung eccentrics, Don Dickerman. The restaurant got its start in Manhattan's Greenwich Village circa 1917 and was inspired by Dickerman's well-documented fondness for dressing like a pirate whenever possible. As the owner of the Pirate's Den, Dickerman had full reign over the decor and dress code, and he was definitely feeling the fantasy. "Captain" Don Dickerman and staff dressed in full pirate regalia, but the uniform didn't stop short of flowing blouses, tricorner hats, hoop earrings, and headscarves. The staff was also known to brandish a utility belt equipped with a multitude of real weapons, most notably, a pirate sword.

The Pirate's Den had several locations over the years, but the one that opened in Hollywood in 1940 was perhaps the most memorable. By then, Dickerman's theatrical dining spot had captured the attention of celebrities, with Bob Hope, Errol Flynn, and Bing Crosby coming aboard as investors. Dressing the part was just half the battle for the Pirate's Den employees. Staged duels served as mealtime entertainment, with staff members going as far as to "abduct" female guests and put them behind bars. In order to be released, they had to scream for help. 

But what was once billed as "The most unique rendezvous in the whole cock-eyed world" didn't last. The lure of Dickerman's campy Pirate's Den wore off, becoming yet another obscure piece of a bygone Hollywood era.

Hooters uniforms were problematic from the start

The first Hooters opened in Clearwater, Florida, in 1983 and soon became a multinational phenomenon. The establishment is known for popularizing chicken wings in sports bars, but its real claim to fame is the revealing waitress uniform. A white logo tank top (which has evolved into a tight tee with a deep v-neck), orange brief-like shorts, pantyhose, white socks, and white sneakers is now a classic look exclusively associated with the Hooters brand. The restaurant's atmosphere of beer-swilling men with one eye on the football game and the other on the waitresses' assets gave way to the term we love to hate: breastaurant.

The double entendre of "Hooters" left little to the imagination, just like the uniform itself. Hooters waitresses are often stereotyped as having large breasts, but being busty technically isn't a job requirement. Rather, dress code requirements for female waitstaff include always having their hair and makeup done and keeping what little clothes they wear spotless. 

A copy of an undated employee manual released by unflinchingly states, "The essence of the Hooters Concept is entertainment through female sex appeal." Newer breastaurants have put their own spin on the Hooters aesthetic, but recent polls show that the younger crowd isn't really into sports bars or staring at women's breasts while they eat. Due to this, the demand for Hooters has declined.

Head-to-toe white at the Cheesecake Factory was a literal mess

Being a server at the Cheesecake Factory is a serious waiting gig, and if you worked there years ago, an all-white uniform with a necktie was required. Seeing as the Cheesecake Factory's menu is the size of an arithmetic book and there are many servers working the busy dinner service every night, suiting up in bright whites isn't a practical choice. Not only that, but former Cheesecake Factory employees have said that management expected servers to keep their uniforms clean at all times. We get it, but again, impractical.

As it would happen, the Cheesecake Factory saw the error in its ways, and by the mid-2010s did away with white pants and went with black instead. The changes didn't stop there though. Nowadays, servers at the Cheesecake Factory play it safe with a completely black, necktie-less uniform, so the food stains that are often inevitable during peak dining hours aren't nearly as glaring.

@home cafe treads a thin line between cute and disturbing

If the term "maid cafe" is new to you, we understand. The phenomenon originated in Japan and everything about it — including the frilly, childlike uniforms — is over the top. Take @home cafe for example, where the dainty maids look like precious dolls in their short dresses and decorative aprons, while referring to guests (who routinely happen to be middle-aged men flying solo) as "master." 

@home is one of the most successful Japanese maid cafes, with locations in Tokyo and Osaka, but the uniform is a mere piece of the cosplay influence. The young women who work here speak in shrill, overtly girlish voices and giggle a lot, much like a child in an anime cartoon. They sing and dance on stages that are a fixture in the cafes' interiors. For an extra charge, a maid will even play a game with you and pretend to be your friend. Themed eateries exist to play up the whimsical — or wacky — but we can't help but feel that the infantile costumes of @home cafe conjure up a creepy kind of make-believe.

Check your ego at the door if you're a server at The Bubble Room

The Bubble Room on Florida's Captiva Island is one of those storied places that's been around for decades. With a theme like "It's always Christmas at The Bubble Room," you'd think the staff would be decked out in red and green — but the uniform shirks that visual. For whatever reason, the designated workwear for The Bubble Room servers is a khaki scout uniform embellished with patches and accented by a zany headpiece of the server's choice. Huh?

Obviously, there's no direct correlation between the scouts and Christmas, and the connection between a scout uniform and a funny hat is nonexistent. The heavily decorated time-warp aesthetic inside The Bubble Room makes it seem like a world of its own. Somehow, the bizarre uniform feels like just another part of that curated environment, along with the bunny ears, Spartan helmets, and naturally, a shout-out to Pikachu. Similar to other uniforms on this list, staff members leave work only to return to the real world dressed like overgrown children.