Belize Doesn’t Have Chains? Untrue. Sarita Ice Cream in San Pedro
I’ve heard it so many times – “Belize doesn’t have big chains”. No Mcdonald’s, no Walmart, no Burger King. And that is true…well…true for those brands to be sure. But I’ve also heard from a number of expats that Belize doesn’t allow chains. And that? That is not true.
We do have hotel/resort chains – the Ramada (in Belize City) and the Best Western (the city and San Pedro), Hilton and Marriott, and most recently Margaritaville. (I’ve heard rumors, recently, of a Hard Rock resort – hello 1996? – coming to Ambergris Caye – but no one is able to provide any hard details)
There is a story I’ve heard twice in Belize City from taxi drivers about Pollo Campero – the beloved Guatemalan/international fried chicken chain coming to Belize. It is alleged that a group of key executives flew into Belize City, jumped into a taxi (knowing a taxi driver’s local knowledge is unparalleled), and asked to be taken to the best fried chicken places in Belize. The taxi driver brought them to Belize City’s finest – Friendship Restaurant (my fave), Li Chee, Kickdown Fence – and they ate “greasy bags” of fry chicken at each.
When the taxi driver brought them back to the airport at the end of the day, the Guatemalan execs declared Belize’s fried chicken “unbeatable” and said there was no reason to open a Pollo Campero franchise in the country of Belize. They would have no chance.
I love this story. Not only because two taxi drivers told me very similar versions of the story – both were THE taxi driver in the story – but just the national pride in the Chinese fried chicken of Belize.
I promise I’m getting to the point here…
There WAS a Subway franchise in Belize City and it closed in 2006. It highlights why we don’t have chains – because chains require their own products – like with Subway. Their own loaves of bread and meats and cheeses – and almost everything that is imported into Belize is hit with customs and duties that can make that sort of business unaffordable.
But just recently, a CHAIN opened a store in San Pedro – right across from Tropic Air and it’s called Sarita.
Helados Sarita, founded in 1948, is a Guatemalan brand that sells ice cream and frozen goods in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic and, more recently, Belize.
Sarita’s ice cream has been available at quite a few grocery stores for a couple of years now. You’ll see the sign in the window and the branded cooler. Almost like the ice cream truck offerings from when I was little. (Sorry for this crap photo!)
But now they opened a stand alone shop.
Sarita is located just across the street from the Tropic Air terminal. The former location of now closed Flight Cafe. (Here’s my first visit to Flight Cafe when it opened in 2017)
There is seating on the front porch but in this heat, I wanted AC!
And aside from the lovely ladies that work there, the AC was INCREDIBLE. So cool that I caught a chill. Bliss!
The menu is simple – scoops of hard ice cream (1 scoop is $8bzd and a pretty good size) up to sundaes that get more expensive and ice cream cakes.
The menu showed SLICES of ice cream cake for $10bzd. YES! But they didn’t have slices that day.
I decided to try the frozen yogurt. It’s actually a hard bar, about the size of an ice cream sandwich, that is softened in a machine. With frozen berries and fruit or without…and it comes out like soft-serve.
For $18bzd, I got this parfait and it was delicious. Pricy but delicious. The frozen yogurt actually tastes like yogurt – not crazy sweet and with that yogurt-y twang. Tasty.
But what I was really paying for was a seat and strong AC. And I got it. So good on this hot hot day.
So great, that I called Jeff to get on over here. I’d buy him a scoop. He came in and order one scoop of espresso bean ice cream. And we just enjoyed all things cool.
So there you go, a look inside San Pedro’s first international chain restaurant? I think it is…
They serve coffee and frozen desserts only. There is no bathroom and the prices are quite expensive (especially if you are used to the $2-5bzd offerings/pops you can find at the supermarket)
But if you are looking for an icy break on your very hot day, this is a great spot.