Barcelona Estimates 30% of Its Restaurants Have Closed, Including a 150-Year-Old Icon
One longstanding coffee shop located in a historic building has been replaced with a Taco Bell.
According to Barcelona's restaurant association, as much as 30 percent of the Spanish city's bars and restaurants have closed permanently since the start of the pandemic, including some iconic spots that had been welcoming locals and visitors for more than a century.
"At the beginning businesses were closing because of the pandemic and the lockdown," the restaurant association's director Roger Pallarols said, according to The Guardian. "But in recent months they've been the result of the restrictions and the disastrous management of the crisis."
Although the borders to Catalonia remain closed, residents have been allowed to travel within the region since mid-March, when some restrictions were slightly relaxed.
Right now, bars and restaurants are allowed to remain open from 7:30 a.m. straight through 5 p.m. (instead of having separate breakfast and lunch serving periods, as they were previously required to) and are limited to 30 percent capacity for indoor dining. They can serve takeout until 10 p.m. and deliver food until 11 p.m., but all dining areas must close at 5 p.m.
Unsurprisingly, that hasn't been enough to sustain a lot of eateries, even some of the city's most historic spots. Metropoli reports that Senyor Parellada closed permanently in late March, after serving traditional Catalan cuisine for more than 150 years. Can Soteras, which is less than a half-mile from eternally under-construction Sagrada Familia, closed after 105 years.
And Agut, a family-owned spot in the historic Gothic Quarter, served its final meal after 97 years of business. "The premises reopened in June after the state of emergency [was lifted]. It lasted a few weeks and in July it closed temporarily," Metropoli wrote. "It is not a tourist restaurant, but regular customers, many of them officials of the Generalitat (Catalan government) and the City Council, did not come either due to teleworking."
Other casualties have included Alt Heidelberg, an 86-year-old German restaurant known for its potato salad (!) and beer selection, 60-year-old paella specialist Cal Pinxto, and the "mythical" Cafe Shilling, which was just off the pedestrian-friendly La Rambla. (In a sentence that got more depressing with every word, The Guardian noted that Cafe Schilling has since been replaced by a Taco Bell.) The Catalan government says that the current restrictions—for restaurants and everything else—will remain in place until Friday, April 9. Last week, there were 8,745 new confirmed cases of coronavirus in Catalonia and 140 deaths. On a more positive note, 233,571 people received the first dose of the vaccine last week, and 26,962 got their second dose. As of Monday, 14.04 percent of the region's total population has received at least one jab. Hopefully, that's the number that will continue to increase, going forward, which can only be good news for the restaurants and bars that have managed to hold on this long.