Xtine, the serverat Bikinis Sports Bar and Grill on Sixth Street in Austin, has dark hair, a nice smile andkillerabs. You can tell because she’s wearing a string bikini top, Daisy Duke cut-off shorts and cowboy boots. “Texas sexy” is how Bikinis owner and founder Doug Guller describes her outfit.
On a Saturday afternoon in August, the bar is packed with patrons watching coverage of the Summer Olympics on big-screen TVs. The scene creates cognitive dissonance: The bar is full of people cheering the accomplishments of female athletes while being served beer and fried food by women in skimpy clothing. The combination of beer, boobs, burgers and 72-inch flat-screen TVs has been marketed to guys like me—youngish, straight, and usually married guys who love a good burger and say “we” when referring to our favorite sports team—as a form of utopia. Countless commercials suggest that the marriage of sex, sports, food and alcohol is a man’s way of living the dream.
Bikinis is a perfectly pleasant place to spend an afternoon. Xtine is genuinely friendly, and there are couples and even families present. Yet there’s something uncomfortable about being here, beyond the juxtaposition of WNBA star Candace Parker and Team USA’s gold medal glory with the bikini-clad women serving drinks and food: If Bikinis is the ultimate expression of male fantasy, it’s pretty shallow.
But places like Bikinis—known as breastaurants in the media (Guller of Bikinis recently trademarked the term)—are big business in Texas right now. There are 10 Bikinis in the state and others in North Carolina and Oklahoma. In addition, there’s Twin Peaks, a ski resort-themed chain based in Lewisville; Bone Daddy’s House Of Smoke, a growing company out of Addison with five Texas locations; and the Flying Saucer, a national chain started in Fort Worth that features women in schoolgirl outfits.
The business model works.