COVID-19 delayed the opening of the Twisted Fork. After 18 months, Bert Parsley is ready to open his restaurant.
All he’s waiting for is Charlotte County officials to issue a certificate of occupancy.
Once approved, Parsley won’t let the pandemic stop him. Even at 50% capacity, the Twisted Fork, on the property of Bert King’s Black Widow Harley-Davidson dealership, 2224 El Jobean Road, aims to attract more than bikers.
The Sun recently sat down with Parsley to talk about the restaurant. The Twisted Fork showcases a look inside Parsley’s imagination. His reality includes a beer can flag wall, a red 1920 phone booth from Staten Island, New York, converted into a charging station, three neon-lit wine racks made from V8 engine blocks, a putting green, and even raccoon paw prints.
How did the prints get there?
“There was a space in the wall when we were working on the concrete counter tops. A raccoon fit in between and came into the restaurant. It sat in one of the buckets that had a black substance we used for the roof to make the acoustics better inside the restaurant. Then it tracked its black paw prints on the floor until it got up on a table. I knew exactly everywhere it went that night. I decided to keep the prints on the floor.”
Parsley repurposed oil barrels, turned motorcycle parts into a chandelier, and placed an old sidecar on the ledge near the bathrooms.
Where did you get some of these ideas?
“The oil barrels are from the Harley dealership. I used 90 gallons of degreaser to clean all of them. Then I cut and hung on the wall near the cash register. I made them functional by adding shelves inside to store sales merchandise inside.
“There are parts of an old barn from a little country town called Alva in Florida I used throughout the restaurant. I can’t wait to show the barn owner how we incorporated each piece into the restaurant.
“I have part of a C5 2004 Corvette. I have a smoke machine that’s blows from the exhaust. The side car is an Endo used in one of the wars.
“I have two flags made of beer cans on the back wall — the American flag and the Florida state flag.
“There’s 36-high definition televisions and a 10-by-7-foot one which is the largest in the county on the back wall.”
The bar is unique too. Where did you get the idea to encase tools into the bar top?
“I collected tools, gears, bolts, sprockets, spark plugs, chains, wrenches and other parts for two years. I degreased and dipped them in a clear coat. We arranged them throughout the 38-foot counter top of the bar and poured three lawyers or 87 gallons of three-part epoxy to seal the bar. There’s neon lights in them as well at the bottom. There’s 1,400 feet of LED lights in and outside the Twisted Fork.”
Where did all the license plates on the walls come from?
“They are mine. I collected them all through my childhood. I have one from every state. I have a lot of bicentennial ‘76ers up there.”
Why is there a truck on the roof?
“I wanted a truck on the roof of my restaurant. My dad helped me restore it. There were only 1,500 of them made with a half-ton long bed. They used those trucks for the purposes of selling produce. They would unroll the top and sell fruits and vegetables out of the back.”
What’s up with the Zombie killer motorcycle in the back corner?
“My friend gave it to me. It was a movie prop. I don’t know what movie it was in. I just know it’s really cool looking.”
How did you get the idea to make a bench out of a cable spool?
“I got it from Big Boy Toys in Fort Myers and it sat here for months until I could figure out what to do with it. Then I made a bench. I’m sure people will take lots of pictures in it.”
Is there really a throne for guests to take pictures?
“Yes, there’s a throne made of a pickup truck, handle bars, an exhaust that has smoke machine at night.”
If you could open today how many workers will you employ?
“We will have about 160 to start out with. We plan on being open Monday through Wednesday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. on Thursdays, 11 a.m. to last call on Fridays, and 7:30 a.m. to last call on Saturday and Sunday.
“The restaurant and outdoor seating is large enough that we can social distance for days. The pandemic as a whole slowed everything to a snail’s pace. It’s delayed a lot of things. Every day during the first days of the announcement of COVID-19, I distanced myself here and focused on the details. Now it’s all come together, I’m very eager to open.”