Hello all! We are back at it after some time off and are starting off strong with a new series; “Mahahual Locals Spotlight”. This series will be published monthly and will highlight the journey of a well-known local who fell in love with our lovely little town and never looked back.
As you know, Mahahual is a special place full of special people that makes up a very unique community of locals, born and raised nearby, Mexican nationals who moved from far away parts of the country, Europeans, Americans, Canadians…you name it! We are all here experiencing this crazy ride together and each of our unique personalities and stories are what makes Mahahual what it is! Let’s get started!
This month we interviewed Lorena Lucidi, the well known, multi-talented, and lovely manager/waitress/owner/bartender of Divino Delicia Italiana, and Divino Delicia Mexicana, two of the staple restaurants here in Mahahual. You can catch her any day (except Monday!) in Divino Delicia Mexicana on the first corner in Casitas serving up delicious cappuccinos, vegetarian omelets, and huevos mexicanos to locals and tourists alike in three different languages, with a smile and relaxed demeanor.
Costa Maya Life: Well first thing is first, how did you end up in Mahahual?
Lorena: It’s a long story! My husband and I are originally from Italy but where living in London for several years. The weather was bad and the pace of life was just too much for us. We wanted to do something different so we could enjoy life more. My husband’s father, Angelo, had moved down from Italy to Playa Del Carmen and we decided to go live with him. But we quickly realized that Playa Del Carmen, even though it isn’t as big as London, had the same pace as a city 10 times its size. It wasn’t much different.
Costa Maya Life: Did you guys have a plan for what you wanted to do once you got there?
Lorena: We wanted to start a business renting paddle boards, jet skis and things like that but we realized that it was too expensive there. You have to pay a tax and the tax for each paddle board was as much as for a boat. We also thought about opening up a restaurant there but it was also extremely expensive. The rent and cost of living weren’t that different from Mahahual but to own a business was another thing.
Costa Maya Life: Yeah the tourism industry there is already pretty well established I would imagine! So how did you find Mahahual?
Lorena: Well some friends of ours had told us about Mahahual, it’s beautiful beaches and relaxed charm, and that there was a cruise port. So we came down to check it out and we loved it. We decided we wanted to stay right away!
Costa Maya Life: Yeah that seems to be how it happens!
Lorena: So we went back to get our stuff and moved down immediately.
Costa Maya Life: So what did you do for jobs when you first moved down?
Lorena: Well six years ago Mahahual was very different. There weren’t as many things here and there was a need for almost everything. We met some local hotel owners who let us open a business on the beach in front of their hotel renting paddle boards and jet skis like we wanted to in Playa Del Carmen. Imagine that for two people coming from London where it is cold and rainy all of the time, to a beach town in the Caribbean working all day every day on the beach, it was like a dream for us!
Costa Maya Life: Yeah it doesn’t get more picture perfect than that! So what happened? Why did you stop doing that?
Lorena: Well, being out on the beach all day, every day, is fun for a while but it does get old believe it or not! Business was good but we were having some problems with cruise ship tourists using the equipment and damaging it, then trying to get them to pay for it, or them getting hurt, because alcohol and jet skis aren’t really a good combination….it just became too much of a hassle. So we decided to look into opening up a restaurant because Angelo has a real passion for cooking. He loves it!
Costa Maya Life: And is that what he did in Italy? Owned a restaurant?
Lorena: No. He just loved cooking. And my husband and I had both worked in the industry in London. So we had some experience.
Costa Maya Life: Ok! So we all know that there are a lot of good Italian restaurants here in Mahahual. Were you guys one of the first?
Lorena: There were already some good restaurants in town but not too many when we opened Divino Delicias Italiano down at the beach. We wanted to open something nice, but not too fancy, where people could come for a good atmosphere but not have to worry about dressing up too much or paying to much.
Costa Maya Life: So business was good?
Lorena: Business was great! The first year there was always a line out the door waiting for a table. Every night!
Costa Maya Life: You guys do have some great food. That is totally understandable!
Lorena: Thank you. Then after the first year business kindof normalized and it has been steady since then.
Costa Maya Life: Well to the locals here in Casitas, Divino Delicia Mexicana is THE place to eat and enjoy some coffee. When did you open this one? What is the story?
Lorena: We decided to open this one after the success of Divino Delicia Italiana down at the beach. Before we bought it three years ago, this location was owned by a greek man and functioned more as a bar than a restaurant. When we first bought it we would be open until 5 in the morning and both sides of the street would be full of people because we were the only bar in Casitas. Pizza Papi was there, but this place was the spot!
Costa Maya Life: Yeah I remember when we first started coming down this place was really jumping at night!
Lorena: Yes but after a while it began to calm down some thank God. At the beginning we never had anybody come in to eat…maybe 10 people all day, but at night it was like a disco. Then after a while it began to shift and now we are more of a restaurant than a bar. we can’t stay open too late because they built the apartments above us and we can’t make so much noise.
Costa Maya Life: Yeah now it is really the low key local meet up spot. There are a few more places to go and have drinks in this area but this is still the place where “everybody knows your name”.
Costa Maya Life: Well that is a great story. One last question and I’ll let you go…What was the thing that really made you stop and say, “Wow. This is the place where we want to be”, when you first came down?
Lorena: Well we came down for two days the first time. The first day there was a cruise ship here so we saw the town and all of the people walking around and the potential to open a good business and that was positive. But the second day, when there was no ship and we saw how quiet and relaxed everything was, we really got that sense of freedom and relaxation that you really don’t get in many other places. Obviously the water is beautiful, the beaches are beautiful and the people are friendly…but that sense of freedom was really the thing that captured us.
Costa Maya Life: Yeah the air here can definitely be infectious. Thank you!
You can catch Lorena, her husband Marco, and her father-in-law Angelo anytime at Divino Delicia Mexicana in Casitas or Divino Delicia Italiana at the beach next to Hotel Pacha Mama every day except for Monday!