Doug Guller, owner of Bikini’s and several other Austin bars and restaurants, is photographed at his 508 Tequila Bar on Dec. 10, 2014. Guller is scheduled to appear on the CBS show “Undercover Boss” on Dec. 28.Photo by Erika Rich / for American-Statesman
The founder of the Austin-based Bikinis Sports Bar and Grill chain is catching all kinds of heat on social media after an appearance on the CBS network’s “Undercover Boss.”
In the episode, Doug Guller posed as an entry-level employee, working at five Bikinis locations scattered across Texas — three in the Dallas area, one in San Antonio and the original location near Highland Mall in North Austin.
Preliminary figures show more than 9 million households tuned in nationwide, according to TV By the Numbers.
At the end of the episode, Guller revealed his true identity to workers at the restaurants — and that’s when the drama kicked into high gear.
Guller, who started Bikinis about nine years ago, is being criticized by viewers for firing an employee who had declined to wear a bikini top and for offering to pay for breast augmentation for a different worker, among other things.
(To be fair, the “breastaurant” owner — Guller trademarked the term in 2013 — also gave one employee a 30 percent raise and $10,000 for a family vacation and offered to help another worker with housing and medical expenses for her ill child.)
But the firing and the offer of free breast enhancement surgery, in particular, rubbed many the wrong way. Jezebel, for instance, said “Undercover Boss” had “stooped to depressing new lows.”
“This was a bad episode unleashing a bunch of unchecked (expletive) on a viewing audience that (judging by fans’ reactions on Twitter) didn’t want it. If there’s a silver lining, it’s that this level of blatant sexism no longer seems widely appreciated,” the Jezebel piece said, in part.
In a tweet shortly after the broadcast, he thanked the show and told his employees, “Y’all rock.”