Costa Rica Beer Factory co-founder Jaime uses a paddle to stir the grains in the mashing phase of brewing, in San Jose, Costa Rica (AtlasNetwork.org Photo/Rodrigo Abd).

Located in the heart of Costa Rica, San José is home to exquisite architecture, lush rainforests, and friendly locals. It is also home to an abundance of entrepreneurs and bustling small businesses. One family-owned business in particular stands out to its community—Costa Rica Beer Factory, co-founded six years ago by Mónica Mendoza and Jaime Zuluaga as just a small restaurant. Today, Costa Rica Beer Factory has four restaurants, a brewery, a small distributorship, and an event venue that hosts craft beer fests and other cultural events. Costa Rica Beer Factory is just one example of when government reduces or removes barriers entirely, small businesses can prosper beyond their wildest dreams.

View of the floor of Costa Rica Beer Factory in San José, Costa Rica (AtlasNetwork.org Photo/Rodrigo Abd).
Employee of the Costa Rica Beer Factory checks the caps and labels on the bottles (AtlasNetwork.org Photo/Rodrigo Abd).
Costa Rica Beer Factory employees prepare food for the weekly Foundation Night, which provides food for the homeless in San José, Costa Rica (AtlasNetwork.org Photo/Rodrigo Abd).
Customers eat at the Costa Rica Beer Factory restaurant in San José, Costa Rica (AtlasNetwork.org Photo/Rodrigo Abd).

While they pride themselves on CRBF’s delicious meals and assortment of craft beers, what the Zuluaga family is most proud of is what they rally together to do on Thursdays. The CRBF team sets up a street kitchen, feeding the homeless and needy in what many in Costa Rica call the roughest neighborhood in the country. Distributing food is often a frantic process for the Zuluaga family and their team, but “Foundation Day,” as they call the weekly gathering, is certainly a rewarding experience as they give back to their community by serving hundreds of meals to people in need.

The Atlas Network team and Luis Loria of the Instituto de Desarrollo Empresarial y Acción Social (IDEAS), a San José-based free market think tank, met the Zuluaga family on one of these Thursdays. IDEAS led a widespread effort to remove barriers to doing business, and their success at improving access to credit has had an enormous impact on small businesses like CRBF.

Jaime Zuluaga Jr., Valeria Zuluaga, Jaime Ricardo Zuluaga, Mónica Mendoza (all of the CRBF) enjoy a drink with Luis Loria of the Instituto de Desarrollo Empresarial y Acción Social in San José, Costa Rica (AtlasNetwork.org Photo/Rodrigo Abd).

Over a hundred people were already waiting. It became clear that CRBF’s work goes well beyond providing meals as the Zuluaga family embraced familiar visitors and graciously welcomed new ones. As people continued to come by for a meal, Mónica explained, “our success allows us to do this, but we want to do even more.”

Mónica Mendoza prepares food for homeless inside Costa Rica Beer Factory’s restaurant, San José, Costa Rica (AtlasNetwork.org Photo/Rodrigo Abd).
Mónica Mendoza and Jaime Ricardo Zuluaga serve food for the needy downtown in San José (AtlasNetwork.org Photo/Rodrigo Abd).
Valeria Zuluaga attends an injured girl after delivering food for Foundation Night (AtlasNetwork.org Photo/Rodrigo Abd).

Mónica and her team were prepared with boxes and boxes of bowls, utensils, and cups, but it is still standard for them to run out on the nights with the most traffic. Nevertheless, their spirits are always high as they see the positive impact that their success is having on this struggling community.

The hard work by Mónica, Jaime, and the entire Zuluaga family is an example of how a small business can flourish when barriers are eliminated and entrepreneurs are given the tools to succeed.
Mónica Mendoza and Jaime Ricardo Zuluaga serve food during Foundation Night (AtlasNetwork.org Photo/Rodrigo Abd).

Costa Rica Beer Factory is more than just a beer lover’s paradise. The hard work by Mónica, Jaime, and the entire Zuluaga family is an example of how a small business can flourish when barriers are eliminated and entrepreneurs are given the tools to succeed. And with an ever-growing platform, the Zuluaga family is making the most out of their success by uplifting the communities that need it the most—and inspiring other small businesses to prevail.

Thank you!

Your donation will help change the lives of many.

The weekly Foundation Night and the CRBF’s culture of social responsibility has helped to build a sense of community in Barrio Escalante, San José, Costa Rica (AtlasNetwork.org Photo/Rodrigo Abd).

The Atlas Economic Research Foundation is registered as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and does business under its trade name, Atlas Network. All contributions are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. The Atlas Economic Research Foundation’s tax identification number is 94-2763845. View our Donor Privacy Policy.