Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Bar Restaurante Vallejos

My wife and sister-in-law have taken over the family restaurant on the beach in Playa Hermosa. Up until the first of August, my father-in-law had been running it. He now sits on the porch of his beach front house next door and naps in a rocking chair while he collects a ridiculous amount in rent from his children for the use of the beachfront Bar Restaurante Vallejos.

The place has been in the family for +30 years and is located in the zona publica of the zona terrestre maritíme (maritime land zone). For those of you not familiar with concession law in Costa Rica, I'll make it simple: the first 50 meters from the median tide mark is zona publica (public zone) and cannot be owned or occupied by anyone. The next 150 meters is concesión (concession) and one must apply for the concession with the municipalidad in order to occupy the land when/if the concession is granted. Concessions are typically granted for 20 years and are renewable. There are also height and density restrictions on construction in this area. Titled beach front property can be had, but is extremely rare.

In other words, the restaurant is an illegal construction in the public zone. This is fairly common in Costa Rica where, in the past, concession laws have been loosely enforced. Now, with the explosive development being experienced in what used to be cow towns, the municipalidad is enforcing the law and forcing owners to tear down or move illegal buildings in the zona publica. If the owner fails to comply, the municipalidad will demolish the building(s) for them, which is usually what happens.

So the clock is ticking on the Bar Restaurante Vallejos, and two other buildings next to it: My wife's grandmother's home where 15 children were born, and another family run restaurant next to it, Bar Laberinto. It could be 2 months or two years - no one knows.

In the mean time, you can enjoy an ice cold Pilsen, Bavaria, Rock Ice or Imperial (beers) over a plate of arroz con camarones or pollo (rice with shrimp or chicken), or a pargo entero (whole red snapper) with ensalada (salad) and papas (French fries) or frijoles (beans) and watch the sunset while taking in a rainbow (click here or on the image above to view a short phone video I took the other day). I'm also adding my famous pasta sauce and a chuleta (smoked pork chop) sandwich to the menu, if I can get my way.

The family uses the restaurant as a social hub to bond and connect with one another throughout the day and evening. I also use it for entertaining my real estate clients and doing business. The corner table is always occupied by someone telling of their day at school, the cock fights on Sunday, the chick-fight at the Pescado Loco, the surfing at Witch's Rock or Ollie's Point, the fishing that day, the price of real estate, gasoline, diesel, and all of the latest Playa Hermosa gossip in general.

My wife's family house is next door and is the perfect nursery for my 1 year old as there's always a family member who is able to babysit and help out. She plays with her cousins and the MANY other kids on the beach in the sand and loves to swim with her Papa in the evening at sunset. She sleeps in her stroller in the shade of the sala just outside the doorway to the back of the bar, oblivious to the frenzy of activity around her.

I will be sad to see the dilapidated shack go down when it does and am savoring every day I still have to enjoy it. My wife and I were married there and it will perpetually occupy a special place in my heart.

To the Bar Restaurante Vallejos: ¡Salud y pura vida! Te quiero...