New Businesses, Remodels, New Owners…The “Living the Dream” Economy

Before I start yapping about business turnover on Ambergris Caye – there was a big announcement yesterday.  The CDC (and the US) have dropped the requirement to show a negative COVID test to get into the country

It’s great news for travel since 1. our neighbors dropped it a while ago (or never had a requirement – like Mexico).  Canada dropped the restriction on April 1.  2.  You don’t have to fear testing positive on vacation (often without symptoms) and have to stay in Belize until you can test positive.  I think this should give a bit of a boost to summer tourism and that’s always a good thing because…

Ambergris Caye has an economy fueled by tourism.  And that makes for an economy that isn’t necessarily “normal” – that isn’t just swayed by supply, demand, and if your business is actually viable.  I’m sure there are textbooks written about the subject but I like to call it a “Living the Dream Economy”

There is always someone out there with a lot of money who wants to run a beach bar in Belize.

I gave my definition in this earlier post trying to address a question I always get:  “What Sort of New Businesses Does Ambergris Caye need” (which is not to be confused with “What Sort of Businesses do YOU Want on Ambergris Caye”

Here’s how I define it:

The local economy of a tourist destination where visitors come to Belize, find a favorite bar, restaurant, business, and think…this looks easy…and fun…I can do this too! In fact, with a few small tweaks, I could make this even better!

These would-be business owners don’t look into many of the details…utilities, taxes, real sales numbers, customer flow, comparables, seasonality, local preferences, and competition…nothing.  They don’t even know if they like living in Belize. They sometimes don’t have any experience running a bar…they would NEVER think of opening a bar in their hometown but for some reason…it all seems possible in Belize.

(Trust me…I understand this! I moved here after only 2 vacations!)

The dream is hazy…minimal when it comes to details but it goes something like this: Buy a bar, open it to accolades and lots of success, friends and family flock down to visit and enjoy, hire super fun workers who are also your new friends, travel, drop in most evenings and collect the profits.

The new owner might find a bar or a small cafe for sale – you can check sites like Buy Business in Belize – for ideas.

Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. This is not everyone but these people are always here.  And then the business is often back on the market – and there is usually a buyer if the price is right. Often sold to the next person with “the dream”.

I don’t mean to sound cynical – though I did write an April Fools post about it a few years back. 

Here was the fake logo.

But it leads, at times, to some pretty high turnover on the island.  And it can seem like every day I drive to town – or drive in a different area of the island – I see a new business opening or an old business opening under new ownership.

Jeff and I like to play “what do you think is opening there?”  It’s a lively game, always with new material!

Yesterday I drove around and took pics of some new and changing businesses on the island.  I need to check a few of them out more closely.  But here are some of my pics.

I’ll start with the old Pedro’s Inn (lots of pics here).  Formerly a sports bar with walls lined with 100s of Jaegermeister bottles and low ceilings draped with international flags.

About a year ago, under new ownership, there was a terrible fire – and the main building burned.

A large cement, almost fortress-looking building went up quickly in its place and now…it’s a casino/nightclub called the Moneta Club at Pedro’s Hotel.  

I’ve already made a call so I can go see it next week.

Moneta Club

Next up – town.  And a beautiful new building of modern decking and containers.  On the corner of Back Street – between the football field and Caye Supplies.

Upstairs a beautifully tiled bar – downstairs, a sort of lounge…

We shall see on this one.  Looks ready to open soon…

This lot used to be the pretty, picket-fenced front yard of a wooden house behind it…

North and over the bridge – the old Legends building is getting rehabilitated since sitting empty for a few years.

This wooden home/business has been around for a long time.  When I first visited, it was Sweet Basil restaurant – one of the only stand-alone restaurants north of the bridge!

Then it was the very popular Legends Burger house.

The FOR SALE sign has come down and construction/rehab has begun…

We shall see…

A bit farther up – this bar has been getting ready to re-open…

It opened originally with the name “Bernie’s Back” and then swapped over to Vic’s Karaoke Bar.  Now…a wild west theme?

Buffalo Bills Wild West

North still – across the street from Captain Morgan’s Resort is this colossal building.

This sign was up briefly in mid-April.  A HUGE lights emporium 3 miles north of town?  Very unexpected.

I wrote about the re-opening of Barefoot Iguana’s nightclub earlier in the week…

There is a ton going on as this town just grows and grows and grows.

If you have any information on these new businesses that you would like to share or other new businesses, please message me!

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