Our Community - Estela Worthington - "Finding the Grass is Greener in San Pedro"

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 10, No. 28            July 13, 2000

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Estela Worthington

How often have you thought of leaving your birthplace in search of another place to live; for a new lifestyle and perhaps for a better way of living? Probably almost everyone has at one time or another thought of moving to another community, state or country. The saying "The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence," has applied to almost all of us and most realize this is not necessarily so. This is the case of this week's personality, who once migrated to another country but her strong roots in Belize called her back to her hometown. She has proven that the key to success is not in a specific location but in one's strong desire to excel. We are pleased to introduce a fine personality in San Pedro - Mrs. Estela Worthington.

    Estela grew up living a happy childhood among her parents Rafaela and Reynaldo Muñoz (deceased), her two brothers and one sister. She attended San Pedro Roman Catholic School and after completing her studies, decided to experience different avenues other than the usual stay-at-home routine, customary in those days. Her godmother, who resided in Belize City, gave her the option of moving in with her while she looked for a job. Estela immediately accepted this proposition. She was hired and worked as a clerk at James Brodie Company Limited for five years. She had already been exposed to the great stories about the "many opportunities" available in the United States, so during this time she saved money for her venture to the "Land of the Free." Her chance soon arrived and Estela, accompanied by a friend, traveled to Tampa, Florida in search of a better life. While there, she enrolled in and graduated from an adult high school program. She also met her future husband, Charlie Worthington, whom she married two years later. Their marriage produced two children; Charles Jr. and Mark Worthington. Estela then began working as a cashier in a supermarket in her new hometown, a job she kept for ten years. She never forgot her "real" home, however, and would make yearly trips to San Pedro with her children, to visit family and friends.

    In 1983, during one of her jaunts to San Pedro, Estela's husband joined her for the first time. Charlie immediately fell in love with the island charm and friendly people. After their return to Tampa, many conversations led to planning the Worthington's relocation to Belize. In 1988, the family made a three and a half day trip from Tampa, Florida to settle in San Pedro permanently. Their future was uncertain but they knew that it would not take much for them to settle in paradise. Their first home was a trailer on the outskirts of San Pedro Town. Charlie, who was a Country/Rock and Roll drummer, managed to land different "gigs" in San Pedro and Belize City which supported the family. Shortly after, they accepted an opportunity to lease the restaurant/grill at Fido's Courtyard. Although Estela had no previous experience in the restaurant business, her great passion for cooking and meeting people were all she needed to make the business successful. In October of 1988, they opened the doors of their new establishment - San Pedro Grill. The restaurant soon became a favorite as the Worthingtons provided their customers with a friendly atmosphere and a light, but tasty breakfast and lunch menu.

    After being in business only four years, they managed to buy a place by the seaside and proceeded to remodel it. The upstairs became their home and the downstairs their new restaurant, renovated with an island touch; Estel's Dine by the Sea. As the name reveals, Estel's features a wonderful view of the ocean, only footsteps from your dining table. Shortly after, they expanded their previous menu to include dinner and a full service bar, making it one of San Pedro's leading restaurants.

    Today the sandy floor, thatch palapas and tropical breeze combined with exquisite food, make Estel's Dine by the Sea a tropical dining experience. When asked what the house specialty is, Estel commented, "Everything on the menu is special. It is all done from scratch and with much ‘gusto'." This family business has attracted a lot of customers both locally and internationally because of their friendly service and fine cooking. Estel can be found busily preparing your choice order but will still find time to mingle with customers. Her sons, Charles Jr. and Mark, are always on hand to take your order or serve you "one more" cold drink. Another treat not to miss at Estel's is the periodic musical "jam session" held by husband Charlie, sons and friends. Although these are rare occasions, those who have been lucky enough to experience it, describe it as "unforgettable".

    Estela told the San Pedro Sun, "I have learned to appreciate all the wonderful beauty that this island has to offer. Even though I was away for so long, I still see this place as Paradise. One of the things I miss is the humble lifestyle we used to live. I have always wanted to recreate the old-time houses and surroundings which were so beautiful and still feel I can one day achieve this."

    Estela had the chance to live away from home but decided to come back to her roots, her family, the place where she was born. With the good fortune of a successful business and a wonderful family, Estel has provided many others the pleasures of Dining by the Sea in "Our Community."

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