Chris Barenfanger - The Treasure of the Chest

Chris Barenfanger of Lily's Treasure Chest restaurant

Many use the phrase "what goes around, comes around" in a negative manner, but the said phrase took a positive turn for a San Pedro businessman. After the threat of Hurricane Mitch to Belize, many beach front properties and businesses were damaged. Lily's Treasure Chest Restaurant was no exception. Owner, Chris Barenfanger was, at the time, in Venezuela conducting business on behalf of his family. Back in San Pedro, his very loyal staff chipped in from their own salaries to restock and reopen the restaurant during his absence.

Chris was born and raised with his two brothers in a small mid-western town in Southern Illinois. He attended the University of Illinois for four years. Both his father and grandfather had been in the construction business and he continued in their footsteps. Chris clearly remembers his grandfather taking him along to work when he was only five years old. After mastering the art of construction, he moved to Houston where he lived and worked as a residential contractor for twelve years. After living in a city full of energy, Chris was ready for a vacation. Accompanied by his buddy, they traveled to Belize in 1983. Arriving in San Pedro, they loaded into a pick-up truck (taxi at the time) and scouted for a hotel. They decided on the Ambergris Lodge where Chris recalls they had a great time. He decided this would not be his only trip to San Pedro, Ambergris Caye. The friendly people combined with the excellent fishing and snorkeling stole his heart. He made several visits to San Pedro in the years following that first trip.

During his visit of 1994, he was approached by Seferino Paz Jr., who asked him to help design the buildings now known as The Villas at Banyan Bay. Chris accepted the project and moved to San Pedro for good. In time he got involved with other projects around town. Renowned restaurant, "Lily's" was up for lease and Chris took on the challenge. "I had no restaurant experience, but I was ready for a change of pace. My friends thought I was crazy," he said. On May 1st, 1998 he opened the restaurant calling it Lily's Treasure Chest. He had to struggle through the slow season, but used this time to get acquainted with the business and make some minor changes. "The restaurant and construction business are somewhat similar," mentioned Chris. "Sometimes it is difficult to get a product needed to perform the task."

Today Lily's Treasure Chest offers a full breakfast, lunch and dinner menu. Dining options include inside seating or on the verandah with a great view of the reef. Chris has also added a few extra treats to the menu such as their now popular Lemon Chicken Breast. Coming very soon will be charbroiled steaks. Chris says it has been a joy to work in this business, all because of his excellent staff of seven people.

Chris has chosen San Pedro to be his home and looks forward to community functions yearly. One of his favorites is Carnival. He believes that people are San Pedro's biggest jewel. He occasionally visits the United States but only to discover, he likes it better here. Plans to design and build his own house is at the top of his list, second is spending more time in the water, which he enjoys immensely. Chris ended by saying, "I love it here. It's hard to put your finger on why, it's just great".

Chris Barenfanger - The Treasure of the Chest

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