City of Hermosa Beach sees sign in Hennessey’s two can toucans

Hennessey’s two can toucans are a sign, not a mural, Hermosa’s Planning commission concluded. Photos by Kevin Cody

‘I do like,’ says the Toucan,

To be beside the blue.

With Guinness Time in view

can ‘You guess what Toucan do’

— Guinness advertisement, 1949


by Kevin Cody

Three Toucans residing ‘beside the blue Pacific,’ on the front of Hennessey’s Tavern, are two too many, Hermosa’s planning commission concluded at its Tuesday, November 15 meeting.

Hennessey’s Tavern owner Paul Hennessey had applied to the commission to have the toucans designated as a mural.mural

The request was denied on a 4-0 vote. (Commissioner Rob Seamann recused himself because he celebrated his recent election to the city council at Hennessey’s.)

The commissioners contended the toucans are an advertisement for Guinness. Each of the toucans carries two pints of a frothy liquid on its bill.

Images on a business that show products sold by the business are defined as signs by the city code. 

“Who said the two pints are Guinness? They could be root beer floats,” Hennessey argued. 

Commissioner Marie Rice countered that the two can Toucans have been used in Guinness advertising since 1930. And because Hennessey’s sells Guinness, the toucans are a sign

‘If the image was a red bull, would you argue it’s a mural  because Hennessey’s doesn’t sell red bulls. Or if it was Captain Morgan would you argue it’s a mural because Hennessey’s doesn’t sell pirates?” Rice argued.

Commissioners Steven Izant, and Pete Hoffman, both former members of the Hermosa Beach Mural Committee, expressed appreciation for the toucans, but conceded they had no rebuttal to Rice’s argument. 

The commission agreed Hennessey could keep the smallest of the three toucans because its size conforms to sign size restrictions. 

Hennessey said he will appeal to the city council “for some common sense.”

“I told the planning commission I’d remove the root beer floats, and thought we had a deal,” he said

“No one looks at the Toucans, and thinks of Guinness, which hasn’t used Toucans in its advertisements since 1982. People think of the Jungle Boat ride at Disneyland, or Toucan Dan (from the television series Timon & Pumbaa),” Hennessey said.

The planning commission did give approval for the “The Grim Reaper Surfer” mural on the back of Vista restaurant, and “The Psychedelic Surfer” mural on the back of Good Stuff, though Good Stuff was required to paint out its Instagram hashtag. ER

Good Stuff’s “Psychedelic Surfer” received mural status from the planning commission, on the condition that the Instagram hashtag be removed.

Vista’s “Grim Reaper Surfer” was approved as a mural because the restaurant doesn’t sell grim reaper surfers.


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