San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Heredia pub brings the bar home to patrons wary of new traffic law

Despite widespread frustrations over Costa Rica´s new traffic law, which cracks down on drunken driving, at least one entrepreneur is making the best of the situation.

To reverse reduced business at his bar, Alfredo Sánchez, owner of El Itabo in San Miguel de Santo Domingo de Heredia, north of San José, is arranging rides home for his customers and has started a food and drink delivery service.

Oscar Aguilar, manager of the National Liquor Factory, told the daily Al Día that alcohol sales at liquor stores and supermarkets have gone up since Jan. 1, but Sánchez says business at his bar has gone down.

Sánchez assumes this is due to the more severe traffic law that took effect on Dec. 23 and carries heavy penalties for people who drive while under the influence of alcohol.

Sánchez, 52, who has owned El Itabo for the past four years, says modifying his business plan is necessary because 40 percent of his revenue depends on beer and liquor sales, and the other 60 percent is food.

He lives in the area with his wife and children, and though he agrees that the laws were put in place for the safety of everyone, it´s still not easy to deal with the change.

“How am I even supposed to keep my house without the business I had?” says Sánchez. “It´s hard. We had to start the delivery system just so that I can sustain the bar.”

Sánchez is offering to deliver a large menu of food and full alcohol bottles. He is also offering the services of some friends who are willing to drive locals to and from the bar for a reasonable price, and if someone agrees to be a designated driver for a group, they are entitled to a free beverage and appetizer.

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