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Bikinis, Texas, Covers Itself Back Up

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A publicity shot of Bikinis, Texas, before the complex was rebranded and scrubbed of its tawdry past. BikinisTexas.com now redirects to Bakersmithtexas.com.

Terrible news for fans of breast-themed locales: the grand social experiment known as Bikinis, Texas, has ended. It was two years ago that the “town” just outside of Fredericksburg made national headlines when Doug Guller, owner of the Bikinis Sports Bar and Grill, bought 1.6 acres formally named Bankersmith and transformed it into a small amusement park for straight dudes. Now Guller says he’s re-renamed the town to the original Bankersmith and dispensed with the breastaurant concept.

Like John Hammond in Jurassic Park, Guller spared no expense building his dream. He turned the town’s crumbling post office/general store into a bar; raised a concert barn; built a gazeboo with a catwalk/stage; and stocked the open grounds with beer and half-naked women. When Bikinis the town had its grand opening, in July 2013, Texas Monthly thought it a real swell idea to send me, a twentysomething dude. As one who’s been to just a handful of strip clubs and only two breastaurants (once, ironically), the experience was . . . interesting

By the time the [swimsuit] competition started, about two hundred people had packed into Bikinis’ city limits. The six contestants were very pretty. And pretty naked. Suddenly captivated, the crowding men deposited their beers and leveled camera phones like trumpeters at a coronation. One took an extreme closeup. He bonded momentarily with a stranger who admired the photo’s angle and asked to be sent a copy, immediately, via text. Even the camera-less women seemed to be enjoying themselves. There were no losers. Particularly since no winner was ever officially announced.

Sounds like a recipe for success! So what the hell happened?!

For starters, Guller’s experiment really pissed off the (reasonable-sounding) locals who said he all but ignored concerns that Bikinis would be an intrusive and ill-fitting addition to the small community. “If it’s a decent party, fine. It’s his property,” the caretaker of a nearby cemetery told me at the time. “[But] he hasn’t spoken to any of us. He speaks to the media. We get everything we know from reading the newspapers or his website.” It probably didn’t help things that the grand opening’s emcee taunted the concerned citizens. “There’s a little sign down the road that says you’re not part of the community,” he yelled into the microphone. “Well, we have a little Bikinis family right here, am I right? Are we about fun? Are we about getting drunk? Are we about bikinis?”

Today, Bikinis Bankersmith is about enjoyable and community-based socializing in a bucolic setting (it is pretty out there). And Guller hopes the “name change . . . will mend fences,” writes the Austin American-Statesman, which has always been rather generous with providing Guller a platform:

“We want a long-term relationship with Fredericksburg. . . . After working with the community for over two years, we feel changing the name was necessary and want to take it back to its grassroots. . . . We’re really excited to reveal Bankersmith—and everything it has to offer—to the surrounding community,” he said. “Bankersmith has evolved into the perfect destination for day trips, weddings, and so much more.”

Guller’s an ambitious, and incredibly media-savvy, entrepreneur who owns a number of themed restaurants and bars. Renaming an entire town after skimpy bottoms wasn’t the only slick move: his other great stunt had been to trademark the “breastuarant” portmanteau, basically beating grandfather Hooters at its own game. So this latest announcement, while a generously diplomatic nod to the community, seems like rather audacious spin from a wheeler-and-dealer. What the hell does “grassroots” mean? 

Breastaurants in general have been doing pretty dern well, even as other, more clothed, restaurant chains began to tank during the Great Recession (though the Twin Peaks biker shootout in Waco and the subsequent leak of the company’s somewhat insulting description of their average customer may have put a damper on things). My hot take on why “changing the name was necessary”? Guller actually had an idea that failed for once. Sure, I’ve heard tale of men traversing great distances for a piece of tail (lookin’ at you, Agamemnon). But Bikinis was down a very long dirt road just off highway nowhere (one Bikinis neighbor saw this problem comin’). Maybe there actually is a limit to what dudes’ll do for just a pint and a peek.

Rather than going grand with the same old concept, maybe Guller should have diversified. I am, of course, thinking of Tallywackers, the new “pecstaurant” in Dallas, which features scantily clad male servers. To live in a world where women and gay men can get the same sort of arousing service and decently priced wings—that is truly grassroots.

Follow Jeff Winkler on Twitter.

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