San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Restaurateurs “Get A New Life”

WITH the aroma of fresh brewed coffee, the sweetness of French toast coated in cinnamon and sugar served with honey, syrup and fruit, the breeze off the Pacific, and an unobstructed view of beautiful Playa Brasilito, Perro Plano appeals all to the senses

Perro Plano is not the standard Guanacaste restaurant, but then again, Claire and Charlie Mayne are not your standard restaurateurs. The couple moved their family from England to Costa Rica six months ago as part of a BBC reality show called “Get A New Life.” The show follows British families who have relocated around the world.

For years, the Maynes discussed living abroad, but the timing never seemed right. Then a series of events set things in motion. Claire was diagnosed with a tumor (which turned out to be benign), a close friend was found to have cancer, another friend died and the pharmaceutical company Claire worked for was bought out.

“WE thought maybe if you put something off for long enough, you completely miss the opportunity to do it,” says Claire. Charlie saw the situation the same way.

Charlie had spent seven years as a British Marine, during which time he began learning Spanish. Claire was interested in learning it. Compiling a list of Spanish-speaking countries, they crossed them off for different reasons until they were left with Costa Rica.

Then Charlie’s sister-in-law, a producer with the BBC, told them about “Get A New Life.” The show was looking for families to take part. On a whim, they called the BBC. Shortly after, two producers appeared on their doorstep asking them if they could move in two weeks. The Maynes agreed, and with camera crew filming, readied themselves for their new life in Costa Rica.

STARTING a restaurant had not been their initial plan, but as they were looking for business opportunities, they were offered the space for Perro Plano.

“We thought, ‘We could probably do that,’” says Charlie. Since the hotel owners wanted the restaurant running, the couple had only 10 days from the contract signing to the opening. They designed the menu to have Tico dishes, but also Thai green curry, tempura and seafood Although, neither Claire nor Charlie had experience running a restaurant, having worked in the corporate world, they approached it like any business. They have dedicated themselves to doing everything from making cappuccinos to planning what they would like for Perro Plano in the future.

“When you start a business, if you don’t put your whole life into it for at least the first year, it’s unlikely to be a success,” says Charlie.

“THE food is good and it’s lovely by the sea,” says Claire. “I’d really like Perro Plano to be first on people’s minds when they think of eating out.”

Having the experience filmed took some further adjusting, but the couple enjoyed it. They were even asked to take part in “Get A New Life Extra,” which follows-up with several of the families.

Claire liked the idea, as it would be a way for them to document their transition and for family and friends to see what their new life was like.

So far, the Maynes are happy. The family has settled in and the restaurant has more customers than it has had in years.

All in all, they are looking forward to watching it unfold all over again in a few months on the BBC.


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