Archive for December, 2013

IT’S MARTINI TIME – The Story of Ginger Restaurant and Sailing around the World (almost)

Written by Michael Simons on . Posted in Costa Rica Food, Costa Rica Living, Newsletters

Tank Tops Flip Flops edition no. 32

We are pleased to have as our guest blogger Anne Hegney from Ginger Restaurant.  Anne and her husband Bengt are long time Playa Hermosa Residents, highly involved members of the community and as you will learn – Very Successful at “Retiring” into their dream professions in Costa Rica.  Here is their story – ENJOY

Ginger Restaurant

Both Bengt and I are both sailors. I grew up sailing and racing Lasers and Hobie Cats, and Bengt took up sailing as an adult. Bengt had always had the dream of buying a nice 40′ sailboat to live on, and sail around the world, but I said “No way”. So the comprise was to move to Costa Rica, and buy a smaller sailboat that we could sail up and down the coast.

We moved to Playa Hermosa from Montreal in 2000, when Bengt sold his clothing manufacturing business and retired. I was a high school math teacher, which I loved, but I told him that if he was retiring, I was retiring, too, and I did. For two years. By then I was so bored, I decided I needed to get back to work. I had been a chef in Montreal when we first met, but had never had the opportunity to open my own restaurant, so my dream was to open a little restaurant and bar, where I could serve a few tapas. We wanted something small, about 5-6 tables, and preferably on the beach, but there was nothing available to rent at the time, so we bought the property and hired Costa Rican architect Victor Canas to design it, and it was beyond our wildest expectations. I still love the design.

The restaurant opened December 20, 2003 (our ten year anniversary is coming up!!) and was a hit from day one. In the beginning, I was in the kitchen and Bengt was ‘mein host’, and general fix-it man. After about 4 months, the bartender quit unexpectedly, and I became the bartender. Bengt went on strike with the fix-it jobs, and decided that his skills were put to better use holding up the bar. I hired a handy man, and fired Bengt. After a while I hired a bartender, and promoted myself to ‘Executive Chef’. So I still design the menu and the recipes, and train the cooks, but I’m no longer sweating on the line every night.

After 5 years, we expanded, building a second, open-air terrace, which doubled our capacity to 100 (so much for the little bar idea!) It opened in February, 2008, just as Bengt left for Sydney, to sail across the Pacific from Australia to Costa Rica on a 55′ catamaran.

So he (almost) got his dream, and I got mine.

We started doing ‘Martini Night’ with half-price martinis every Friday night, two years ago, to get the locals out. It’s turned into something that’s a lot of fun, mostly Hermosa and Panama people getting together and catching up with the neighbors.

Cheers,

Anne

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