You could say Geoff Bailey owes his business success to peanut butter. The 55-year-old from Oregon moved to Colombia with the intention of slowing down and enjoying retirement. But while staying at a rural hostel, Geoff couldn’t stay out of the kitchen.
“I was making things for myself, just for the fun of it. And people would come in and want to taste the things I was cooking, like hash browns or my peanut butter. Then people started saying, ‘We’re leaving and want to buy some of your peanut butter.’ So that’s how it all started,” he recalls.
Geoff had clearly tapped into a market.
He decided to settle in Salento, a small tourist town in Colombia’s coffee region.
With an increasing demand for his peanut butter, he figured it was time to open an eatery there, so he started Brunch de Salento in May 2012.
For the menu, Geoff stuck with foods he likes to cook—Philly cheesesteak, biscuits and gravy, Buffalo wings, omelets, and, of course, the all-American hamburger and fries.
He won’t serve any dish unless every ingredient is the best he can find. And many meals include ingredients made from scratch…breads, butterscotch, and hot wing sauce.
Word of Geoff’s delicious meals has spread…and fast.
“An American guy who lives in Manizales (about an hour away) came in. He said he read about my restaurant on TripAdvisor and heard that Brunch de Salento had the best burger around. So he got on a bus, rode to Salento, ate a burger, and then went back to Manizales.”
Brunch de Salento now ranks number one on TripAdvisor’s Salento restaurant list—no small feat in a town filled with top-notch restaurants.
Foreign travelers account for the majority of Geoff’s clientele—folks craving a little comfort food far from home—but Colombian tourists also drop by to try something new. After a meal, guests are encouraged to write a message on one of the restaurant’s walls, which have filled up fast with comments left by travelers from as far away as Zimbabwe, Melbourne, and Walla Walla.
Earlier this year, Geoff turned the restaurant’s back room into a cinema, where customers can enjoy a cold beer or a glass of homemade wine while watching a flick. He’s adding a coffee bar, and homemade cinnamon rolls will soon appear on the menu.
But a big expansion isn’t in the works.
“When it’s full, it’s full,” Geoff says. “If you overextend yourself, then the quality will suffer. So I try to keep things manageable.”
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