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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Costa Rican restaurant Outback Jack’s up for grabs in essay contest

Want to win a hopping restaurant in the colorful Caribbean town of Puerto Viejo in an essay contest? Can you write 300 sizzling words and cover the $175 entry fee?

If so, you could be the proud new owner of Outback Jack’s Beach Bar N Grille, with its lease paid a year in advance, as well as $10,000 to defray operating costs.

On top of that, the top 10 finalists in the contest will receive a $3,000 all-inclusive weeklong trip to Costa Rica, with a side trip to Panama, include airfare, lodging, food and drinks.

Jack Williams, 70, the Australian-born owner of the restaurant for the past seven years, said it was time for him and his wife, Penelope, to retire and write books, and he thought an essay contest would be an interesting way to sell the place.

Outback Jack’s Beach Bar N Grill
(Outback Jack’s)

Lest you think Williams might have to surrender the restaurant for a song, the fine print of the contest rules says 2,500 entries must be received, or else the entry fee of $175 will be returned. That means the owners are looking for a payday of at least $437,500.

Asked in a telephone interview what he thinks the restaurant is worth, Williams said about $350,000.

“Looking at the market, it’s hit and miss when you try to sell on the regular market,” he said.

He said he got the idea from an inn in Maine that was sold this way.

“We could just sell it, but things move slowly in this day and age,” he said. “So we thought this would be a fun way to do it.”

The contest was announced Tuesday, and the deadline to send the essay and make the payment by PayPal is Dec. 15. The essay should be 300 words or fewer, on the topic “Why do you want to own the Outback Jack’s restaurant in a Caribbean tropical paradise in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Costa Rica?”

Independent judges unaffiliated with the restaurant will judge the essays — unless only 2,499 are received, in which case presumably $437,325 in entry fees will be returned.

For more info: Contest rules and other details are at

Contact Karl Kahler at


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