Tiki Hut History
The beauty of the Turks and Caicos attracts people from all over the world. When visitors first arrive, they are often overwhelmed by the natural setting of Providenciales. Many choose to stay and invest their time and money to make the Turks and Caicos Islands a better place for everyone.
Doug Camozzi was certainly impressed the first time he vacationed twenty five years ago.
Doug hails from Denver, Colorado and while on vacation he became captivated by the opportunity to combine his restaurant expertise with his love of water sports. He became aware that a restaurant called the Banana Boat was coming available. Doug soon found himself packing up to start his new adventure with his first wife Stephanie (seven months pregnant at the time). With Wilbert Forbes and his partner, Doug reopened the Banana Boat with a splash in late 1991.
Fate presented itself when the Tiki Hut became available a year later. Doug sold out of the Banana Boat to scoot down the docks of Turtle Cove. There, Doug carved a spot in the pages of Provo history. Tiki Hut remains under his wing as a landmark in Provo. Turtle Cove Inn was home for nine and one-half years, until Doug recently partnered with Provident to relocate Tiki Hut on Turtle Cove Marina. Now, with a fresh look and truly a waterfront location, Doug hopes to maintain Tiki Huts reputation as a local hang-out for families and fun dining on the Pond.
With the reputation of being a hard worker, Doug sets his goals high. In late 1994 he opened a restaurant in Winter Park, Colorado. Now with two small children and two restaurants in two countries, Doug racked up the frequent flyer miles spending much time traveling back and forth between the two in order to keep both places operating efficiently.
At one point in time, Doug was involved with the Banana Boat again and simultaneously opened a Rib House in Winter Park. Slowly, Doug began to pull the reins in. He sold out of both of his Colorado ventures to move back to Providenicales full time in the fall of 1998.
With only one restaurant to focus on, Doug wanted to find an avenue to tap into his creative side again. That avenue became what is now know as Mango Reef, formally located in Grace Bay on the Royal West Indies Property in early 2001. Working closely with Paul and Bonnie O’Brien, the developers of Royal West Indies, they conjured up a beautiful structure for the restaurant with an old world feel of the colonial Caribbean. Mango Reef showcases tastes from around the Caribbean to delight your taste buds.
Doug’s passion for the restaurant business began when he was very young. Doug is a third generation restauranteur. His father, Alvin Camozzi operated two of his own restaurants and Doug began working in the business with his dad at age 8. Doug studied closely with his uncle, Victor Fabrizio (some of you may remember Uncle Victor when he watched over the original Tiki Hut when Doug was traveling back and forth to Colorado) who had restaurants in Boulder, Colorado and Santa Fe, New Mexico. Doug is an excellent chef and has had the opportunity with Mango Reef to pair some unique flavors for some rather tasty dishes.
Since the Mango Reef Days, Doug branched out with Partner Melissa Hartling to create Greenbean Café and Big Als Island Grill. Greenbean is a quaint local café that specializes is everything “Starbucks”, Salads, Artesian Whole Wheat Mini Pizzas, Vegan and Vegetarian specials and emphasis on “Fresh and Healthy” Melissa brings her “Food 4 Thought” Catering business back to Turtle Cove at Greenbean whereas clients can order on line and pick up their vegan or vegetarian or calorie conscious meal at either Big Als or Greenbean.
Big Als was Doug’s #12 and restaurant honoring his father “Alvin” AKA Big Al. “I felt that I really wanted to devote this one to dad, since he was the one who inspired me to get into this crazy business all along and stick with it. Twelve establishments later, Big Als hits the Turks and Caicos. Specializing in Certified Angus Beef and Ground Chuck from Colorado, Doug’s first home, The Smashed Onion Burger on a pretzel Bun or the California Burger with Jalapeno, Smoked Bacon and Guacamole, guarantees to hit a homer with Burger perfectionists. Doug and Melissa wanted to bring concepts that don’t exist. “We are saturated with concepts that overlap, the key is coming up with one that doesn’t exist yet!”
Running a restaurant is a tough business. Doug remembers with a smile the days when the boats laden with food only came in every two weeks…or when the island only had iceberg lettuce…or when the country was out of Diet Coke and Marlboro Lights! When most people are going home from work, Doug is going back to work! You have to have a passion for the business to give 110% at all times. Doug says he couldn’t run the restaurants without his loyal employees. Several have been with him for fifteen years or more. Doug has a philosophy with employees. If an employee shows enthusiasm and the willingness to learn, he loves to share his knowledge of the restaurant business and promote from within. Claude Louis, Phillippe Renis and Jean Regis are three such examples. They have all been with Doug off and on since Doug’s beginning days on Provo. Claude is now Doug’s right hand man in the kitchens and chef at the Big Als, with Jean and Phillippe taking the helm at Big Als also.
As an integral part of the tourism in Provo, employees at both restaurants have the opportunity to be ambassadors for the Turks & Caicos. Tourists are intrigued with the friendly staff and enjoy visiting with them to find out more about the country.
The face of Provo is much different than it was twenty five years ago. There are many more restaurants to choose from now. Doug says his biggest challenge is keeping everything updated with fresh ideas. Even when he is away, Doug is always looking for new menu burgers or new drinks for Big Als and new salads, veggie burgers or Coffee Drinks at Greenbean, while trying to introduce new trends to Provo. Many of the tourists are from North America with demanding palettes and locals are always looking for new ideas, so Doug is constantly searching for the latest crazes. Tourists are sometimes surprised to find their favorite new rum flavor tucked away at Big Als in the Caribbean!
Doug has settled in with his Partner Melissa, 2 Potcakes, Jake and Ace, and two restaurants to keep him happy on Provo, celebrating twenty five years in the Turks and Caicos. With Big Als in Grace Bay, Greenbean in Turtle Cove, Doug has created two venues to offer most customers a wide range to choose from.
And now comes lucky number 13! The New Tiki Hut, Well I guess you could say the old Tiki Hut back at its new location or the New Tiki Hut back at its old location, either way, The Tiki Hut comes home, “Back where is all began!” Leaving an amazing location at waters Edge on Diddle Cay in the Marina, Tiki Hut had a 13 year homerun there but fate would have it going back to Where it all began, The Turtle Cove Inn, Dockside.
“Stephanie and I created something amazing! When we came to Provo, there were only 13 restaurant licenses, now there are 139 and growing. Tiki Hut remains the only one left of the original 13 so the history is huge! I tribute this to Stephanie as we both worked so hard to make this work though all these years, through all the new restaurants, through all of the ups and downs of the financial sector, through old timers moving on and leaving legendary stories behind, through hurricanes and relocations, The Tiki Hut Lives On! To now have the opportunity to take it to another possible 22, is amazing! So to the next 22 years!” Tiki Hut continues…….
Joining Doug in this venture this time, are his Boys, All grown up and taking it to the next level with Dad, Sons Chase and Kent will get a taste of the past 22 years and hopefully on to the next 22 just like Doug did with his father.
So let the next chapter begin, The next big thing has arrived. After 22 years, Tiki Hut comes home!
Stop by and visit Doug for fun dining and magical atmosphere at the Tiki Hut dockside at Turtle Cove Marina, or treat yourself to the simple diner style pleasures of Big Als or a delicious Salad or Wrap at Greenbean. Or an amazing Steak and glass of wine, Dockside at the NEW, OLD, NEW Again Tiki Hut.
You are sure to enjoy all of their establishments!