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Thank God the Tiki Bar is Open

Posted by Tony & Cheri on February 29, 2008

The Bar at the Luna BlueWhat were we thinking? Four years ago we decided to buy, renovate and run a hotel in Mexico. Never mind that we knew nothing about owning real estate in another country…or about construction…or the travel industry. In fact we knew nothing about running a hotel. And our Spanish wasn’t very good. But it sounded like a fun adventure so we said, “What the heck!”…or words to that effect.

We jumped into our new life and our new business head first. It wasn’t easy. In fact at times it was downright difficult and it was always hard work. We kept telling ourselves that when the work was done and the hotel a smooth running success we would relax and enjoy a little time off. Ha! Well, most of the hard work is behind us and the hotel is, thankfully, a smooth running success (we have an average occupancy of 99% in high season). But as for the relaxing part…not so much.

We decided last year to add a small bar to our hotel. Never mind that we knew nothing about building, stocking or running a bar. It sounded like another fun adventure. We said “What the heck!”…or words to that effect.

Some of our guests at the Luna Blue barSo we built a bar with carpenters who never showed up and with plumbers who we discovered couldn’t find the pipes. And of course there was the legendary third world bureaucracy. The city inspectors, the sanitary inspectors, the parking police and all the others. And getting a liquor licence is a trip unto itself. Everything had to be provided in triplicate…no excuse us…we will need four copies and the original…and the fee paid in cash please! At one point the city license office fell behind on its processing of applications (this was last December when our application had been “in process” for several months) and decided to cancel all applications and make everybody start over in the New Year! Seriously!

We plodded ahead and built a beautiful tropical hardwood bar. We surrounded it with swings hanging from a palm thatch covered roof. We set it so that it overlooked our sunken garden and waterfall. Our dearest friends in the world, Eric Rogers and Jan Docchio, came down from their jobs tending bar and managing a restaurant in San Francisco to help us and advise us how to make and serve drinks. Eric even desingned some new “boat drinks” for us.

Our receptionist wanted to learn to be a bartender, so we agreed he could work in the new bar. We also hired Jose, a legendary Playa Del Carmen bartender to run things. So finally we were ready. Almost. Today is the bar’s Grand Opening. We cut the ribbon at 5:00 p.m. But before that we have to buy limes, pick up the beer and chill it, go to the liquor distributor and get our tequilas and rums, help the guys set up the bar, print and laminate the bar menus and a dozen more things. Oh, don’t worry. We’ll get it done. Somehow we always manage to. It will be a long day of hard work, but when it is over we will be the proud owners of a new tropical bar in Caribbean Mexico!

Now maybe we can relax a little. Or maybe we’ll start an auto repair shop or a laundry. After all we don’t know anything about those businesses either!

If you get down to Playa in the future, please stop by and join us for a drink at the new bar at the Luna Blue Hotel.

“Thank God the Tiki Bar is Open.”

~Jimmy Buffett

10 Responses to “Thank God the Tiki Bar is Open”

  1. Zoom said

    Congrats….can’t wait to pick out a swing

  2. Libby said

    We DO need a good auto repair shop in this town! 😉 Congratulations guys!! See ya tonight.

  3. Bruce & Gene said

    Glad to know your Tiki Bar is up & running for our April stay. We know you have planned & worked for this for a long time. Congratulations to you both! Can’t wait to buy you a drink & toast to your success! See you in April, Bruce & Gene

  4. I can’t believe I’m missing the opening night!! D@mned flu!! See you guys as soon as I’m back in the game!!

  5. eddie tabor said

    Tony & Cheri
    Congrats on the new bar. We wish we could have been there for the opening. Tell Biz not to give up his day job a rapper he is not.LOL but he gets a “A” for tring. Well we will be there in a few weeks and are looking forward to enjoying the new bar. The bar from the pictures looks great.

  6. Sharon/Queencityfan said

    T & C,

    Just wanted to let you know how much Jenn and I enjoyed our visits to the Luna Blue bar last week. Genaro & Jose were a delight and now I have a new favorite drink, the Sarrita Be Good! I did manage to find the Pomegranate Tequila before we left town so I can make my own at my Tiki bar up north.



    Thank you SO much for the Rose’s Lime Juice!! You know how much I love that stuff! It hasn’t been turned into a margarita yet, but you can be assured it will soon. Thanks, and it was good to see you again! Enjoy the pomegranate & think of us when you drink it!


  7. Pat R said

    Congratulations. We got to see the bar “in progress” and look forward to seeing the finished product in the future.

    Thanks for keeping us posted on what’s going on in PDC.

    We’re still working hard to start “living our dream” within the next year or so. The condo in Playacar is a start.

    Hope to see you soon.

    Pat & Mick
    Hating this gloomy Winter in NJ

  8. Alicia said

    Tony and Cheri,

    Congratulations of the opening of your bar! Did José bartend at Posada Freud? If it is this José, he is a doll. He is responsible for a few bouts of the cocktail flu which I experienced while in Playa.

    Hi, Alicia!

    Yes, José did bartend at Posada Freud. I do believe he may be responsible for the “cocktail flu” for many, many people! 🙂


  9. Jim Kane said

    Sounds like a real adventure. I am wondering about the help from San Francisco. I once had a bartender work for me in Denver named Jan Docchio. She was originally from Pittsburg. Could that be the same Jan. I hope it is and if you could tell her to give me a call that would be great. Parrot head forever.

  10. Scott S said

    Congratulations! What you’ve done has always been a dream of mine: opening up a tropical tiki bar somewhere in the Caribbean. If you don’t mind my asking, can you give me a ballpark or rough estimate of what your start-up costs were? Were you required to use local financing? Any input would be greatly appreciated.

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