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This Tiny Texas Town Fought for Its Dignity (and won)

 

In a saga that began in 2012, the tiny town of Bikinis, Texas is no more.

That’s not to say the 1.6-acre plot of land that began as a Hill Country whistle-stop in 1913 no longer exists. Rather, it has been reverted to its original name, Bankersmith.

Largely unknown to most people, even most Texans, Bankersmith received nationwide media coverage in 2012 when it was purchased by Austin restauranteur Doug Guller, who renamed it “Bikinis”. Guller is the owner of Austin-based chain “Bikinis”, a so-called “breastauraunt” with a…pretty obvious theme. The restauranteur planned to turn Bankersmith into a world-renowned tourist destination and events venue similar to Luckenbach, Texas…if Luckenbach had a Hooters.

The story went that Guller encountered a Craigslist posting offering the town up for sale and jumped at the opportunity to breathe new life into a long-dead Bankersmith. It seemed made-for-TV, when in fact the transaction was arranged as a public relations stunt by Guller himself, and a very effective one. After the story was sold that a Texas businessman had bought an entire town, the ensuing media frenzy missed some important facts. One in particular shed light on this bizarre story: The alleged ghost town had a current resident.

Image via Phil Houseal
Full House Productions

Maggie Montgomery had lived in Bankersmith for 15 years when Guller’s business plans ended her residency there. Montgomery is a musician who would often host informal back-porch picking gatherings at her home in the tiny town. After Guller purchased the land, she was given 30 days to vacate and has since moved to Comfort, Texas.

Montgomery’s unceremonious eviction was not the only controversy facing the restauranteur, however. Neighboring residents were not looking forward to having what was previously a quiet plot of land transformed into a two-piece party destination.

After three years of consternation with protesting from neighbors, Guller relented and changed the name of the town back to Bankersmith.

Image via Phil Houseal
Full House Productions

Guller spoke to local Fredericksburg columnist Phil Houseal about the name change, stating, “I just think after making some inroads with the community, and listening to feedback, this was the best move for the long term.”

Houseal is himself a former Bankersmith resident and has been writing about the controversy as it progressed. The years of conflict seem to have taken an effect on Guller, softening his resolve to create a bikini-filled Hill Country party destination.

“I want this to be a place the community feels comfortable coming to and sending people to,” Guller told Houseal. “We are integrating ourselves more than we did a couple of years ago. We want to be part of Fredericksburg and the Hill Country, one hundred percent.”

Most recently, Guller made headlines after firing one of his staff during an episode of Undercover Boss for not wearing a bikini to work.

Next: 15 Tiny Texas Towns You Need to See 

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This Tiny Texas Town Fought for Its Dignity (and won)