- Tamika Lewis
- Sara Bliss is a writer, brand advisor, Forbes contributor, and New York Times bestselling author who writes about travel, health, and careers. She is the coauthor and author of 11 books including “Hotel Chic at Home,” “Pretty Powerful,” and “Beauty from the Inside Out.”
- The following is an excerpt from her book, “TAKE THE LEAP: Change Your Career, Change Your Life.”
- In it, she gets insights from Carrie and Jerry Bogar, who went from running a restaurant in central Pennsylvania to becoming restaurant owners in Anguilla.
- The Bogars sold everything in Pennsylvania to move to Anguilla. While it was a long process, and they gave up a big opportunity in Pennsylvania, they believe it was the right move. Life is less stressful and financially better.
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For over a decade, we ran a fine dining 50-seat restaurant in central Pennsylvania. Unexpectedly, we were approached by a developer who was working on a 500-acre parcel and wanted to include a 120-seat restaurant. We drew up plans, and everything looked really good. But one day we looked at each other and thought, This is going to be a lot more work. At that point, we had been basically working all year to take one or two weeks off. We spent the first week of January at a different island every year. We thought, This is kind of stupid. We don’t need to work all year to save to go to the Caribbean, we could open a restaurant there and live there.
- Courtesy of Sara Bliss
We did a Google search for “Caribbean restaurant for sale,” and spots in Anguilla and Nevis popped up. We had been to Nevis but thought it might not have the volume of established tourism that we would probably need. We had never been to Anguilla before, but we knew it had a cachet of having a high-end clientele and good restaurants.
We flew down to Anguilla and stayed for five days. We ate in all the top-end restaurants to see what the competition would be. We figured we had the know-how; we had been running restaurants for 12 years. We thought the chances were pretty good we would do alright.
When we met with the owners of the restaurant for sale, they were thankfully more interested in what kind of people we were rather than money. We said, “This is the deal. We have to sell everything back home first. We don’t have any money until we do.” They are very laidback buyers and have another business, so they were okay with waiting. They wanted buyers who weren’t going to have loud music or a nightclub atmosphere. They told us, “A handshake is good enough for us.” And we had a deal. We kept flying down every three months to shake their hands and find a house and schools for the kids.
- Courtesy of Simon & Schuster
When we flew back to Pennsylvania, we went back, told our staff, and put everything on the market. But it took forever to sell our restaurant. The first year we had a buyer, but she got sick and wasn’t able to do it. After the end of the second year, a chain restaurant offered us a huge amount of money for the liquor license. We felt like it was selling our soul a little bit. It enabled us to do what we wanted to do, but it was hard to see our work get dismantled like that.
While our sale was being finalized, we went down to shake the restaurant owners’ hands again, and they said, “We’ve been talking about it, we decided not to sell.” We couldn’t believe it. But they offered to lease it to us. We bought a house and signed a 10-year lease for Veya.
It is a lot less stressful here. Everyone here is in a laid-back frame of mind. In Pennsylvania, when the purveyors would come for deliveries, they would be running around and hustling. We would have to check to see if they were ripping us off. In Anguilla, the fisherman comes in and it’s like, “How are your kids? How are you doing? How are the seas?” We have to allow more time to get things done, but it’s nice time. It’s across the board like that. If we go to the grocery store, it’s going to take an hour because we are going to run into 20 people to talk to. We like that.
In Pennsylvania, we would work six days and people would get all weird if we closed for a day. When we got to Anguilla, people were like, “You’re really going to work six days a week? Are you nuts? You’re going to be tired! Why don’t you work five days a week? When it’s slow, why don’t you work four? Everyone will still come because they are on vacation!” We now serve only one meal a day, because it is a better pace.
Instead of taking off two weeks a year for vacation, we take two months off during hurricane season, October and November. It’s not that unusual in the Caribbean, as many people work in hospitality and those are the quietest months. Our children’s teachers give us their work for that time, and our children do a report when they get back. It’s a lot more laid-back and understanding. We could not take the kids out of school for two months in the States. We travel everywhere and seek out unusual things to do and eat. We’ve been to Costa Rica, Scotland, Botswana, and Vietnam.
We wouldn’t still be married if we lived in the States! It’s so stressful trying to compete and trying to keep up – unemployment compensation, insurance, taxes, and you can’t even do what you like to do because you’re so buried deep in that. When you are constantly going, going, going, you don’t have time to think. You don’t have time to come up with new ideas. You don’t even have time to stop. Now it is fewer hours, fewer days, more vacation, and financially better. It was the right move.
From TAKE THE LEAP: Change Your Career, Change Your Life by Sara Bliss. Copyright ©2018 by Sara Bliss. Reprinted by permission of Gallery, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc.