The year was 1989. In a small community college in Georgia, Julian and Casandra McClellan met briefly for the first time. Then, as the saying goes, life happened and they went their separate ways.
Twenty years later life happened again…in a big way. Julian and Casandra not only met again, but married. Then, in November 2011, they moved to Ecuador.
“I had to get out of the cubicle,” says Julian, who worked for 10 years at UPS. “I wanted to try something completely different and I was lucky enough to find…re-find…the perfect partner to do it with.”
After just a few months in Ecuador, Julian and Casandra bought a property just outside Otavalo, the hometown of one of South America’s largest indigenous markets. Their dream was to turn it into a bed & breakfast where they could indulge all of their interests at the same time.
Rio Blanco Bed & Brew was born.
“I love to cook,” says Casandra. “So the breakfast part of a B&B is a treat for me. I also love to decorate, so I got to remodel our four guest rooms with local artworks and crafts.”
For his part, Julian has had a long-time interest in craft beers and quickly discovered that craft brewing was a niche that needed filling in northern Ecuador.
“I love good ales and stouts,” says Julian. “And there was literally no place to find a good hand-crafted beer in Imbabura Province. I figured it would be a good selling point for the B&B. I had the knowledge; I just needed the place to brew and the supplies. It all came together…we’re now tapping our own brews right here in our little beer garden.”
“I wouldn’t say that starting the business here was any more difficult than it would have been in the States,” says Casandra. “The big difference is the overhead and operating costs…they’re low enough here that we can offer a truly budget-oriented place to stay that is still unique and high-quality.”
Rio Blanco Bed & Brew also provides a beautiful setting and a nice front porch for Julian to indulge his other interest—music.
“I can sit out here on our porch with a pint of beer I made myself and hear the creek running down in the valley and the breeze in the mountain pines and eucalyptus. If there’s a better place to pick some guitar of an evening, I don’t know where it is.”
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