Twisting a Toucan
Legendary West End bar changes hands

December 1st, 2005
by Thomas Tomczyk

[private]

While dancing on the bar, Danielle serves free shots of alcohol to customers

While dancing on the bar, Danielle serves free shots of alcohol to customers

Tanya Clemenson, from England and Danielle Gentilcore, from Florida were the founders of what is possibly the most recognized business name in Bay Islands- Twisted Toucan bar. While Mayan Princess, Fantasy Island and AKR all have marketing departments and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in marketing budget to advertise their name, Twisted Toucan became a Mecca for backpackers and tourists throughout Central America by word-of-mouth. No need for Twisted Toucan to ad “world famous” in front of their name. They already are.

It all begun in 1997 when Tanya and Denielle met while working at a bar in West Bay and decided to gather all their savings, the entire $500, and launch their own bar in West End. They subleased a space where Toni’s Pizza used to be, decided to name their bar Twisted Toucan and the rest is history.

The first three years were tough as the two young women had to make known that not everything goes. “The men eventually learned that they can’t do anything they want just because we were female,” said Gentilcore.
In 2000 Twisted Toucan moved 200 feet North, to a more ample space by an old almond tree owned by Jewel Stanley. The business boomed and the two owners prospered until a personal conflict escalated and Tanya decided to leave Roatan. In 2002 Danielle bought out the other half of the bar from Tanya, who went on to start her own bar in Copan- Twisted Tanya’s.

The Twisted’s employees often became friends and the bar was able to retain employees over the years. Jason Peter Collins is currently the establisment’s manager, while Dora Smith, Carlos Funes and Jenny Bodden tend to the bar. Carla Romero keeps the space clean. Not a simple matter as hundreds of gallons of alcohol has been spilled on every inch of the wooden 30 by 30 foot purple and brown structure.

Tee-shirts, stickers, murals, and business cards line every square inch of the bar’s walls. Yet the true value of Twisted Toucan lies not in its real estate, or walls, but in the people that kept it pumping for eight years.

A dive tank bell was replaced by a brass boat bell rung whenever someone tips a bartender, or just for the heck-of-it. “The most fun we had was in the last three years for Halloween, Christmas, basically every weekend,” said Gentilcore.

Over the years, the bar became known for its wild, sexy barkeeps that would climb onto the bar and pour free drinks into the open mouths of their customers. “We give clients attention and that’s what makes the difference,” says Gentilcore. In fact, Twisted Toucan was so successful that Genticore says few other bars managed to provide competition. “They all eventually ended closing down.”

In December, Matt Powell, an American from Tennessee is expected to take over the ownership of the bar. While waiting for all necessary documents of the bar and beginning to build four apartments in West End, this ex-housing authority official, decided that he needed to find something to fill his time. “My goal is not to change anything in this high energy, youth oriented bar,” said Powell. [/private]

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