Identical twins keep Brio patrons guessing

 

Danielle and Dina Gunter have been having fun working together since they were teens.

By JULIE LANDRY LAVIOLETTE | Special to The Miami Herald

If you have Sunday brunch at Brio in Pembroke Gardens and think you’re seeing double, it’s probably not the Mimosa kicking in. You’ve likely met identical twin hostesses Danielle and Dina Gunter.

The 24-year-old siblings, born a minute apart, have been confusing and amusing restaurant patrons for the past year and a half from their post behind the welcome station at the Pembroke Pines eatery.

“People will say ‘Am I seeing double?’ or ‘I haven’t had that many drinks yet,’ ” Danielle said.

Greeting guests separately is the most fun, the girls say. You can see the confusion when one of the fashionable twins greets a customer, walks off and then presumably returns in a different outfit. People say “Didn’t you just ask me that?” before realizing it’s two women. One time, Danielle said, she lost a customer when they crossed paths with Dina and the man began following the wrong sister.

“The managers love it – sometimes they just stand back along the wall and watch because they say it’s so entertaining,” Dina said.

The two say they love working together because they’re so in sync.

“Sometimes we’ll say ‘Welcome to Brio. How many?’ in unison,” Danielle said. “Sometimes it’s three phrases in a row, and we’ll think ‘How did we do that?’”

Brio is not the first place where the twins, also roommates, have worked together. The girls started getting jobs together at age 15, behind the concession stand at the Pines Ice Arena in Pembroke Pines. They went on to be party hosts at the ice rink, then hostesses at a Chili’s and Rainforest Café.

Sometimes they were hired as a package, like when the Chili’s manager saw them dining in his restaurant and hired them on the spot. Sometimes one will be hired, then bring the other on the job.

That’s what happened at Brio. “I told my manager, ‘If you love me, you’ll love my sister,’ ” said Danielle, who has worked at the restaurant since it opened three and a half years ago.

“When people see them, they’re so happy,” said fellow hostess Christina Katker. “Their favorite word is ‘fabulous’ and when people ask them how they are, they say it at the same time. Everyone loves the twins.”

Though the girls don’t dress identically, they share similar tastes in clothing, jewelry and make-up. And sometimes they coordinate by accident.

“We use the same palate of eye colors. Sometimes I’ll do my eyes in three colors, go to work and when she comes in a couple of hours later, hers will be the same,” Dina said.

Raised in Cooper City, the girls, now Pembroke Pines residents, both smile when they think of their days at Cooper City Elementary and Pioneer Middle, changing places in the classroom to fool their teachers.

Nicknamed “trouble” and “double trouble” on their softball team as teens, the girls are so alike that even their mom calls them “DanDina” when she can’t tell them apart. But the sisters say they draw the line when it comes to the guys they date. Boyfriends are absolutely required to know who’s who. “If they couldn’t, they wouldn’t be our boyfriends,” the twins said in perfect unison.

These days, the Gunter sisters say what may be more fun than working together is when they work at adjoining shops. On Saturdays, Dina hostesses at Brio, while Danielle works next door at Brimstone Woodfire Grill.

“Patrons perusing the menus are always taken aback, they think they’re in the Twilight Zone,” Danielle said. “They say ‘I just left the other place, how’d you get here so fast? ’”

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