Picasso For Sale, Community and Wanderlust

by Claire Ross – Proud Owner of Picasso Café, Bar & Restaurante, Community-Lover, Wanderer I think and talk about the concepts of community and wanderlust a lot; I love both and need both in my life.

It It was first by following my wanderlust, then in satisfying my craving for community that brought me, Claire Ross (mostly known these days as ‘Picasso Claire’), to Latin America, to Panama and to Picasso in Playa Coronado.

Fourteen years have passed since I first left England, with my backpack on, for ‘a gap year’. Here I am today, living a dream life as owner of the hospitality hot-spot at the centre of Panama’s Pacific-coast community. I love this business, this area and this lifestyle. Simply-put, the time has come for me to move on.

Picasso is profitable, completely turn-key and ready to continue growing with new hands guiding it. I am getting ready to dust off my backpack and journey onward into the unknown once again. I feel my anchor to community releasing and wanderlust tugging me forward.  

Picasso is for sale!

Please email the Picasso Team to book a meeting if you have done your homework and feel that the Picasso community lifestyle could be a good fit for you:  claire@picassobarcoronado.com

Read more of my story...

I was born in a far-away land called England and raised in a loving home, inspired by books, the outdoors and travel. I was always encouraged to spread my wings and pursue anything of my choosing. As a new university graduate in 2003, I grabbed a backpack, flapped my wings and, like many of my peers, I left for ‘a gap year’.  My choice of initial destination was Lima, Peru.  Not such an uncommon story so far. The difference with my story, compared to many, is that I never returned to live full-time in the UK. In fact, I have been almost-exclusively in Latin America ever since.

I lived a relatively-nomadic life during most of my twenties; back-packing around South America, settling temporarily and teaching English in Colombia, a short stint training in sales and marketing in the Caribbean and then several exciting years based in Panama City but packed with regular corporate travel. I spent these years happily satisfying my adventurer's spirit and rampant wanderlust.

Then, suddenly, the balance shifted and I started to feel my other yearning – to be still for a while and feel the warmth of community. Thus a new cycle began. My new quest for community brought me away from the bustle of the city and far from the demands of multi-national business. I moved with my dogs to a house two blocks from the beach in Coronado. Less than a year after moving, having evaluated employment options, I decided I was ready for my first entrepreneurial venture. I took a deep breath and focused all of my experience, talents, savings, energy and attention on one project: Picasso!

I had a vision for a fusion bar/restaurant and community hangout in an empty house on the main corner of town, and I had bought my friend’s wellness-center-art-gallery-turned-pizza-café.  In 30 days and 30 nights an amazing team and I created Picasso Bar & Restaurante. Crossing fingers and smiling broadly we opened to the public in January 2011 and became an almost-immediate success.

Panamanian families kept telling me on their weekend visits “hacía tanta falta esto” (“this was so needed”). The expat community went wild for somewhere to gather and develop their social networks, where the food was fresh, the drinks inexpensive, the vibe always welcoming and the location perfect.  I’m not saying there weren’t times when it was really hard; but mostly, everything flowed for Picasso from the start and I felt grateful that all of my dreams were coming true. I still do. Picasso gives me a way to spend my time that I love almost every part of, customers who I genuinely like, a business that is profitable, (relatively-)drama-free  and enables me to live a full, fun and varied lifestyle in the tropics!

In 2015, Quebecois couple Mafalda Smith (baker, project-manager, financial-planner, coffee-lover) and Yann Delisle (sales-exec, cook, pro-smiler, super-athlete) moved to the area with big hearts and ambitious ideas for a Picasso daytime operation under their administration. It felt like the perfect collaboration to take the business to a new level. At the beginning of 2016, Mafalda, Yann and I created Picasso Café, Bar & Restaurante which now open its doors and arms to the public six days and five nights a week.

At a little over six years old, Picasso today has a heart-beat and life-force of its own. I like to believe that it is unstoppable now. It is the answer to so many questions and the centre of so much for so many. Year-on-year the business has learned new lessons, gathered more loyal customers and grown in every sense of the word. I believe that Picasso is a truly great café, bar and restaurant. Many others must believe it also since Picasso is consistently packed with the lion's share of the available drinker/diner/entertainment-seeker market of the community on any given day or night. Picasso has become an iconic community-hot-spot, meeting-point, epicenter, “second living-room”, “Panama's Cheers” and “community club house”. As country singer Toby Keith wrote: “I love this bar!”

I love this town too! Coronado has changed and developed hugely in the time I have lived in the area.  Even with all its new stores, residences and restaurants, inside the gates of the community still feels to me like a chilled little beach town that's cozy and familiar in a way that many of us recognize as the feeling of home. To me this area is very unique in the intimate, collaborative way that people go about their business and their pleasure. It has been an amazing experience to watch the community diversify, mature and flourish and a great honour to be a part of it.

The whole attraction of this area is that people feel community here. They feel clan. Most of us cross paths with many clan members daily. The local amenities provide for all of our needs and keep us well fed and entertained. We spend our time with a genuine sense of belonging to our greater community, its sub-communities, circles and habitual hangouts. We love getting together for a shared experience and a great time.  Coronado just might be the coolest small(ish) town I could ever imagine living in. My community cravings have been well and truly satisfied here.

So here I am.  Fourteen years since I first left England. I’m living a dream life as owner of the hotspot at the centre of Panama’s Pacific-coast community. I love this business, this area and this lifestyle. Simply-put, the time has come for me to move on.

I am getting ready to dust off my backpack and journey onward into the unknown once again. I feel my anchor to community releasing and wanderlust tugging me forward.  Mafalda, Yann and I are all ready to grow in new ways. Picasso, also, now proven and profitable, is ready to grow in new ways with new hands guiding it. Picasso Café, Bar & Restaurante (including long-term property lease, all business infrastructure, experienced-staff, reputation & ratings, loyal customer following) - is officially FOR SALE.

The question that I am being asked around Picasso and around town is: So where next? Where will your wanderlust take you? The honest answer is that I don't know! The list of places I have not yet visited is long...

I will remember Panama, Coronado and the Picasso community with only the fondest of memories. But now, the open road awaits me.

Picasso is for sale.

Please email the Picasso Team to book a meeting if you have done your homework and feel that the Picasso community lifestyle could be a good fit for you:  claire@picassobarcoronado.com