The Pleasures of a Beach Business in Costa Rica

Stephanie Gough can hardly believe how quickly the five years has gone since she moved, with her family, to Costa Rica.

“It’s kind of crazy that it’s been that long,” says Stephanie, who lives in the bustling beach town of Tamarindo, on Costa Rica’s northern Pacific coast.

She and her husband, Brian run a beachside restaurant serving American favorites like chicken wings, burgers, fries, and hot dogs. Each day, they look out on the beach…and the glittering Pacific through a row of trees. Their open-sided restaurant fits perfectly with the beach vibe.

Life in Tamarindo, like many coastal communities, is centered around the beach. The bass-heavy rhythms of reggae issue from beach bars…and the expansive beach is perfect for long walks.

The living is easy and nobody is in a rush to go anywhere. It’s an attitude Costa Ricans call pura vida, which is also the unofficial national motto. It literally translates to “pure life.” But “life is good” is probably more accurate.

The weather in Costa Rica is warm year-round, so Stephanie and Brian enjoy the beach any time of year. And there are plenty of opportunities for fun in the sun, with activities like sport fishing, kayaking, and, of course, surfing.

The couple also have a great social life in Costa Rica, with plenty of get-togethers with friends to watch the sunset or play dates with other families with young children (they have a daughter and son). A cook out and pool party for July 4 was a big success.

Back in their native Colorado the couple ran a succession of popular sports bars—four in all. But they were always working and stressed out. They didn’t have time for each other.

In Tamarindo, there is much more time for leisure.

“I work three days a week for five hours, unless I leave early,” says Stephanie. “We love the flexibility. We close down totally on Thursdays. And after a year we have someone we can trust in the kitchen, so Brian can leave early other days when it’s slow.”

Brian, who mans the kitchen, enjoys the work.

“I love to meet people,” he says. “And I like the challenge of opening a business. It can be hard if you try to import your American lifestyle, where you need the latest car and all that…but we didn’t do that, and I love it.”

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