Expats living in and foreigners visiting Costa Rica over the past several decades are sure to remember some of the companies and brands that have in common the fact of having disappeared from the market.
Some closed due to economic problems, poor management or because their owners decided to sell out. Here is a partial list of names and companies that were part of the commercial history of the country.
AERO COSTA RICA
Businessman Calixto Chaves, in the mid-1990s, founded the company Aero Costa Rica. In 1997, he sold 75% of its shares to Prestige International for US$3 million amid a complicated situation due to suspended flights and annoyed passengers. The business did not prosper and the airline finally stopped flying.
On September 14, 1994, then-President José María Figueres Olsen closed one of the oldest banks in the country, Banco Anglo, after being intervened for irregularities with credit, overdrafts and risky investments. As of September 2009, debts totaled ¢28 billion colones.
The restaurant chain Spoon announced in January 2007 that it would open 20 points of sale of its new brand of coffee shops Grao which would be distinguished from its mother brand. Taco Bell acquired Spoon in mid-2009 and the new brand remained in the freezer until it disappeared as a business.
It was once a chain of supermarkets in suburban areas but from 1999 began to rethink the business by closing some points of sale and opening a more popular concept. Debts with suppliers, embargoes and other financial problems caused their definitive closure in 2000.
It was marketed as a water park in the city that would operate under the membership system that in addition to the attractions of the park, visitors could enjoy the hotels and five more parks that would be built. Neither one nor the other occurred. According to representatives of the Municipality of Belén, the facilities were taken over by Bancrédito.
For years certain products, primarily oriental and other imported, could only get them in Yaohan, the supermarket icon located in Sabana. The Chinese competition and the offer in new marketing channels gave way to their owners decided to sell the premises to the More x Less chain. Today, it is a Masxmenos.
For 42 years it was the Rex Cinema. The building owned by José Raventós was sold and the business of the showing films by Discine was transformed into the importation of films. In the late 90s, they also succumbed to Bellavista, also owned by Raventós. The same destination was for Cinema Colón as well as other provincial cinemas. Today, the building is occupied by a Mc Donald’s and offices.
HOSPITAL SANTA MARIA
From 2006 to 2009 what was for many years THE Polini Funeral Home was converted to a private hospital. Financial problems only allowed it to operate for three years. The owners, the Webb Choiseul family, stopped payments to banks and real estate funds. The building was acquired by Grupo Montecristo, owner of the Metropolitan Hospital.
A group of Colombian investors wanted to repeat in Costa Rica the idea of a theme park as it was in their home country. They bought a farm in San Mateo de Alajuela, invested about US$25 million took, two years to build it, but the business only remained open two years after. The plans to build hotels, villas and a replica of the Casona de Santa Rosa in Colombia vanished like the horses, pigs and bulls.
Famous for its years and for the clients that visited it, the Soda Palace became almost a national emblem. Founded in 1929 by José María Calvo Reventos, Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, John Kennedy, Romulo Betancourt, Alan García and other personalities passed through its doors. Upon the death of its founder, his son and nephew assumed control, but in 1999 they decided to sell it. Today, it is a food court.
LACHNER & SAENZ
He was born in 1939 thanks to the efforts of Manuel Lachner Chacón and Álvaro Sáenz Espinaca to distribute vehicles. Then their children continued with the business but the contraction of the market and the economic stagnation caused in 1996 that they undergo an administrative process by judicial intervention. Later in 2005, the business was acquired by Group Q, a Salvadoran company. Today, the site is abandoned. shadowed by the Torre Scotiabank (formerly Torres Mercedes)
For many, it was the Tico Disneyland. It was located in a large property in La Garita de Alajuela. There, the group of singers Los Chicos filmed a video and it was the place for children and teenagers to visit during the 70s and 80s. The reasons for its closure are not clear.
The Churrería Manolo’s was a meeting place in the pure capital center. In January 2011, the Ministry of Health issued sanitary orders against the business for finding unhealthy conditions in the kitchen and other areas. The case went to the Fiscalia (courts) because the owner of the patent also had debts with the Social Security and the Municipality. Today, after years of being boarded up, the location is a retail store.
It operated for many decades as a popular ballroom with live orchestras, in Barrio Tournón. But, in November 2010, its demolition began to give rise to the El Tobogán Corporate Office, developed by a firm of the same name.
Many clients of the Otec travel club were not surprised to learn that the company had declared bankruptcy and was being investigated by the Prosecutor’s Office. The warnings already saw a sad end coming especially in March 2011 when 20 Ticos were stranded at the Barajas airport, Spain because the company failed to pay their trip.