opening a cafe

Posted By: lillian

opening a cafe - 04/26/03 03:18 PM

Hi Everyone, I'm getting clear with the idea that working is questionable unless one is contributing to the economy and employing Belizeans. My husband is looking into a teaching position as a professor (he has a doctorate in psychology) with the medical school but we are trying to figure out how I would generate an income. We would be there for at least five years easily so I think I could qualify for some form of residency status eventually. What I am wondering is if I might be able to open a cafe--coffee, cookies, pastries, etc. and sell artwork (my own and that of local artists). I could employ locals and give local artists a place to display their work. Do you think this is possible or is there so much bureacracy to tread through that it's unlikely? Also, what are the average electricity bills and phone bills we would expect? Thanks:)
Posted By: deking3333

Re: opening a cafe - 04/26/03 04:03 PM

I assume you are thinking of moving to San Pedro? The reality is that we have to MANY restaurants, bars, dive shops, hotel rooms, tour guides, musicians, artist, gift shops and condos on our island. There is no way all of them can survive on the amount of tourist that come each year. Most, or better put; very few of the existing business' make ANY money and I watch many come and go every season. We all are dreamers on this board and that is why we love Belize. Just be very aware that this place will chew you up, digest you and expel you as routinely as a bird eating a fruit does. Whatever idea you have, someone else is already doing it or has tried it. San Pedro really is best as a place to retire and not plan on working there. Of course knowing these things did not stop me from chasing my dream to live here some twenty years ago (although it was much less developed then). Maybe you are one of the few who will make it, hope so!
Posted By: Chris

Re: opening a cafe - 04/26/03 04:06 PM

Lillian; If you can afford it, consider buying an existing business. I have one for sale, it's my Internet cafe/bar. Plenty of room for artwork etc. It might not be quite right for you, but email me at [email protected] and I will try and point you in the right direction no matter what.
Posted By: Sandy C

Re: opening a cafe - 04/26/03 08:08 PM


For art: recommend you contact Susan Lala, owner of Caribbean Villas Hotel. She started an art group on the island and sells her own art in many galleries, so she has insight and contacts; CV has a link via "Lodging" above. For cafe: Cafe Ole (501-226-2907) across from Tropic Air at the airstrip seems to be a business success (at least they are still open!) - maybe those owners could give you some insight for their business. Other insights could come from Chris and Jennifer at Casa Picasso (a unique restaurant on island) - they have a link via "Goods & Services" above. Maybe the medical school would be of assistance for a work permit, etc. for you, since they probably have to have some documentation for your spouse. If you decide to look for a job, gringos are frequently in demand as managers of hotels and condo complexes. Can't help you with the phone and electrical bills; Susan could probably assist with that also. Best wishes with your adventure!
Posted By: lillian

Re: opening a cafe - 04/26/03 09:51 PM

Thanks to everyone for your suggestions. Yes, I thought the medical school might be an option and I'm thrilled to know someone has started an artists' group locally. My husband thinks I'm like a cat with nine lives, always have a back-up plan. I'd really like to get into making more pottery (raku specifically) and maybe teach a couple local girls/women how to do it so we could all generate an income. Thanks everyone. This is a really friendly board and I'll keep checking back.
Posted By: Marie

Re: opening a cafe - 04/26/03 10:08 PM

Hi Lillian! I always threaten to jump ship and move there. I'm a counselor with two Master's, one in psychology and the other in counseling. I'm also ABD and deciding whether to finish that job. I have no idea about what would have to be done about the whole issue of reciprocity there, if he wanted to counsel on the side of teaching. Maybe that's not his thing. I love Belize and go there all the time. But, do have your husband check seriously into it, and you, too. My guess is, and its what keeps me up North, there is not much interest in the profession there. Maybe more as a teacher, but I'll bet very little as a counselor if he does that, too. So, please, check it out before you 'sell the farm'. My dive master always says, spend 6 months there first before you make a move. It's harder than it looks. Good luck!
Posted By: dbdoberman

Re: opening a cafe - 04/26/03 10:42 PM

everybody who loves AC would love to try this lillian, good luck.

As I have absolutely nothing to offer, information or first hand knowledge about starting a business there, I will keep my mouth shut about that part.
Posted By: Chris

Re: opening a cafe - 04/27/03 12:52 AM

You are completely wrong in your statement that very few of our "restaurants, bars, dive shops, hotel rooms, tour guides, musicians, artists, gift shops" etc. here on AC make money. Just about ALL of the good ones make good money. All of the useless ones go out of business rapidly.

In case you don't believe me, here's an exercise for the regular users of this message board: Make a list of all of the GOOD restaurants, bars, dive shops, hotel rooms, tour guides, musicians, artist, gift shops on Ambergris Caye and then see if any of them are about to go out of business as deking3333 implies.
Posted By: deking3333

Re: opening a cafe - 04/27/03 02:23 AM

It is no surprise that a few want to disbelieve what I said about few business' making any money. On the surface it seems that they are making money. I have lived here and owned business' for 21 years and I have seen them come and go. Many times the name stays the same but someone new takes it over. I am very close to the owners of many of the "Good restaurants, bars, hotels, etc. and I know first hand that what I say is true. I also am very close to the money supply to San Pedro and I know who borrows and who can't pay their bills. The names on the list would surprise you. I didn't say no one made money, just most and I stand by that statement. I love it here in San Pedro but I think people should get the straight scoop and not just a random opinion from someone who visits every year or who has only been around for a few years. So I like the idea of making a list and seeing who is left next season and the season after...
Posted By: Chris

Re: opening a cafe - 04/27/03 04:45 AM

deking3333 are you saying that I only visit San Pedro once a year? Or are you saying that I've only been here a little while? Both are implied by you and both are wrong, of course.

Some "small business 101": When a business is "taken over" in our free market society it generally means that it has been sold and bought. I believe one should sell a business when it is doing fairly well, with potential for growth and not when it is failing. Most buyers can see if a business is worth the selling price.

Part of the worth of a business is what you can get for it when you sell it. Just because you sell it doesn't mean it has failed. My experience has been quite the contrary. I have created and sold 4 different businesses here on Ambergris Caye. Of the 4 I sold, 3 are still doing very well indeed, the 4th folded because the owner suffered health problems and handed it over to the wrong person to look after.

I have no intention of telling you which businesses I created and sold; if you have lived here all those years and are as up to speed on your knowledge of business here on Ambergris Caye as you claim I have no doubt you already know each and every one of them.

I am going to concede one very valid point to you: It IS true that a lot of starry eyed Westerners fall in love with San Pedro, move down too rapidly and invest hurriedly. They get in with the drinking and drugs crowd. They think they're into the sharp and suave social scene here on Ambergris Caye, but all they succeed in doing is propping up bars and spending small fortunes each night.

Needless to say, the investments they have made do not get attended the way they should and soon all the money is gone and the dream is dashed.

For anyone considering coming to Belize to live....TAKE YOUR TIME....make several visits, each longer than the last, and get over the "starry eyed falling in love with Paradise" phase. If after a few visits of a few weeks or more each you still like it here, THEN you can make the committment.

And, if you are careful and attentive in your investments you will almost certainly succeed.
Posted By: ScubaLdy

Re: opening a cafe - 04/27/03 05:53 AM

Who are you? Why don't you sign your name or name your business?
Not that he needs it, but I vouch for Chris. I've met him, hung out at his place and admire his knowledge. The problem with being anonymous is that one can say anything and hid behind a silly sign on name. From your first response to the ladies question it sounds to me like you can't stand the thought of competition.
Posted By: deking3333

Re: opening a cafe - 04/27/03 03:39 PM

I rarely respond to anything on this site and the reason is that a lot of people take things personally. I never said Chris had a failing business or that he was a bad guy or needs vouching for. Yes, I know how you are Chris and about your business'. What I said was it is hard to start a business and make it survive here. because we have too many of everything. I never said Chris had just been here a few years or just visited once a year.

Once again, I stand by my statement.

Could it be that we have to many internet cafe's too?
Posted By: deking3333

Re: opening a cafe - 04/27/03 03:49 PM

One other thought. Two different opinions have been expressed. I have no business for sale and therefore no reason to be biased. I can see how having a business for sale could give you a different opinion.

I invite all competition as the more that come the more money I make. Just trying to tell it like it is, and remember: this is just one persons view. I wish the best of luck to anyone who has the dream and I wish the best to Chris as he trys to sell his successful business.
Posted By: Chris

Re: opening a cafe - 04/27/03 04:14 PM

deking3333 says "I invite all competition as the more that come the more money I make.".... he must be a realtor.
Posted By: deking3333

Re: opening a cafe - 04/27/03 06:02 PM

Not a realtor, I am in the money business making loans to local business' and people.
Posted By: Short

Re: opening a cafe - 04/27/03 08:38 PM

I have been watching this subject and thinking about it... I think both Chris and deking3333 are right:

The problem with vacation destinations is that it attracts too many - I call them gold diggers - people who believe to become rich overnight, with a minimum of work. they are the one's who usually fail.

Anyone who has been independent in business anywhere, and doesn't act like he/she has reinvented the wheel, has a more than average chance to succeed over here.

When you have your business plan in order (and you know what this involves), appropriate financing, have been looking at facts rather than believing in "bar wisdom", there is no reason to fail.

Posted By: Sandy C

Re: opening a cafe - 04/28/03 01:23 AM


CocoPlum Gardens Gourmet Cafe & Art Gallery on Caye Caulker, phone 501-226-0226.
Posted By: silkpainter

Re: opening a cafe - 05/15/03 05:08 AM

Please contact me. I'm an artist also, and living on Caye Caulker.
Posted By: rickcheri

Re: opening a cafe - 05/15/03 07:54 AM

This is a good thread!!! Thanks to all!!
As some of you know, we have been going down since '98, every 6 months. Helped in alot of ways for the island, because we were blessed to do so.. But I have to agree with everything said here. You have to do your research and know who to mess with and who not too. Our house will be finished soon, and yes we got messed up with that.
But have learned our lessons and will proceed to get there. Take heart here, we know Chris and yes he is successful there, and the other gentleman we probally know. Do you homework and you will be fine!!!!!!
Rick wink
Posted By: Laguna Punta

Re: opening a cafe - 05/15/03 11:58 PM

Beachcombing is a viable option!!!
Posted By: Beachy

Re: opening a cafe - 05/16/03 06:47 AM

As one of the businesses mentioned in this thread, and as a westerner who came here to start something, I must say that I'll have to side with Chris, good ideas do well, and as long as the owners stay the course and realize that regardless of where one starts a business he/she must continually strive to improve and advance. I love living here, I love San Pedro, I feel like I can make a difference in my community. I feel like I am living what my customers, family and friends see as a dream. I'm glad I'm here, and yes, by the way, my business is making money. So here's my two cents: My perception is that (as Chris mentions) there are those who fall into a dreamy "hey, we're up and running, let's go drinking" and let the biz roll attitude that one might take as failure, but is based more closely on the originally flawed design: a dreamy idea of the hammock life that brought them down here in the first place. As for me, I grew up in the Caribbean, my parents had businesses in paradise while I was in high school. They worked just as hard in St. Croix as they had in Houston. To those who feel they "can't lose!" implementing the smart imperialistic plan they have in seeing a successful business in their city and intending to generate similar results in San Pedro I offer that being your own boss means ALWAYS knowing when your employee (read: yourself) is slacking. Some can do it, some should think twice. It would be cheaper to come here and sit aroung waiting for your residency to come through then get a job working for someone else than sink a lot of cash into a dreamy idea of running a professional "barstool management" firm. Do your homework and plan on sticking it out. Sure, on my days off, I go drinking, head to the beach, sailing, diving, etc...but most days its just a nice view on my way to work. Check your head, stop listening to Jimmy Buffet's lies, and remember that the bumper sticker "just another shitty day in paradise" is ironic on several levels. P.S. anyone wishing to come down and prop up my bar is always welcome as far as I'm concerned. :rolleyes:
Chris a.k.a. beachy
dishwasher and cook and bartender and manager and gardener and accountant and oh, yeah, owner of Casa Picasso
Posted By: rickcheri

Re: opening a cafe - 05/17/03 08:03 AM

Belize is a wonderful place, but you have to know the rules before you go down!!??
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