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Weathered signs point the way to the Bahamas, Jamaica, and Cozumel, but you are in Center Point at Toucan Jim’s - a new tropical oasis featuring beach decor, grilled food, and Calypso music. Photo by Phil Houseal

toucan jims

 Toucan Jim’s is located at 5814 Hwy. 27, Center Point, TX. Hours are 11 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Friday, Saturday 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Call 830-634-2640, visit www.toucanjims.com, email ToucanJims@yahoo.com, or find on Facebook/Toucan Jim’s.

The Perfect Parrothead Party (Jimmy Buffett style band) performs on Saturday, July 2, 8 p.m. to midnight.


webmaster: phil@fullhouseproductions.net

Center Point Paradise: Toucan Jim’s

by Phil Houseal
June 29, 2011


Dream of visiting a desert island? Palm fronds and banana trees? Coconut drinks, grilled food, and sand in your sandals?

Point your flip flops to Center Point.

That totally Texas town midway between Kerrville, Fredericksburg, and Bandera is the home of one unlikely tropical getaway - Toucan Jim’s.

The owner of this thatched establishment is Center Point native Jim Lackey. After 35 years working in the Metroplex, the local boy had an epiphany.

“I needed a change,” he said. He debated moving back home or going to Mexico. In the end, he brought Central America to Center Point.

From Highway 27, the only clue to what lies beyond is the colorful Toucan Jim’s sign. But walk through the pink, green, and turquoise decor and you leave the land of cedar and mesquite for an oasis of palms, sand, surf, bamboo, banana leaves, and rattan.


And “wow” is the word most customers utter when they walk in for the first time. That is just the way Lackey planned it.

“We worked on the back for four years before we opened,” Lackey said. “I thought if we can just get them through the door, they’ll be impressed and come back. So that’s what we did.”

The secret is in the details. Lackey bought plants in bulk, but ordered them all different sizes so they looked like they had been there for years. He installed an underground irrigation system to keep them flourishing in the dry Texas hill country. He chose imperfect posts and building materials to give a natural feel. Lackey even supervises the gardeners to make sure they don’t do too good of a job trimming.

“I want this to look like a jungle. Nothing in a jungle is trim or squared off. We want this as natural as can be.”

And while the decor boasts the wow factor, Lackey understands it is the food and music that will keep people coming back.

Everything is grilled. “I love the smell of grilled food,” he said. “It tastes good; it looks good; it smells good.” At the thatched bar, his staff serves beer and wine coolers. Customers can BYOB their other favorites.

Discrete speakers pump out reggae, calypso, spanish, and Buffett. For now, live music is mainly an open mic Wednesday night, performed in a covered dance pavilion. On the first Saturday of each month, Lackey brings in a Jimmy Buffett tribute band that is drawing crowds (“Reserve a table for that one,” he said).

Lackey has built it, and they have come. “We get regulars every day of the week from all the surrounding towns,” Lackey said. “They are finding us by word of mouth, and we do a ton of stuff on Facebook. I put something on in the morning, and by that night we have 100 different hits.”

Even after being open for only a few months, Lackey sees enough potential to keep building his island. He plans to fix up the front, then expand on another acre next door. He promises a few surprises, but fans will just have to come back to find out. Meanwhile, he encourages the curious to share his paradise.

“I never did want to have something everyone else had,” Lackey said. “It was an idea in my head for a year. In Dallas-Fort Worth this is nothing else like it. I haven’t found anything in Austin, San Antonio, Corpus Christi, Midland-Odessa, Houston, the valley, El Paso... I’ve been everywhere looking, and haven’t found anything else like it so that’s why I pursued it.”

“It’s a unique experience from the moment you walk in the door,” he said. “It’s just a different kind of place. And... you don’t have to dress up to go.”