At the World's Oldest Restaurant, the Fire Has Been Burning Since 1725

They've never turned the oven off at Madrid's Restaurante Botín.

spain has the oldest restaurant in the world
Photo: MyLoupe / Getty Images

The restaurant business is notoriously difficult: Tight margins, ever-shifting trends, and the difficulty of gaining repeat customers with so many options to choose from means that, for many restauranteurs, simply surviving to the end of your lease can be considered an accomplishment. Meanwhile, Restaurante Botín in Madrid, Spain, has probably been through a few leases. Founded in 1725, it's recognized by Guinness World Records as the oldest restaurant in the world.

The YouTube channel Great Big Story dropped by Restaurante Botín to see if they could uncover any of its secrets. One of the restaurant's most unique features is its oven, which has been continuously burning for nearly 300 years: "It is our jewel. Our crown jewel," said Botín's deputy manager Luis Javier Sanchez, who has worked at the restaurant for more than 45 years. "We never put it out. It needs to keep hot at night and be ready to roast in the morning. That's the reason why we must never put it out. There is a special aroma in there; it's truly incredible."

oven of the oldest restaurant
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Equally incredible is how dedicated the restaurant says it is to maintaining the cuisine it serves. Though Sanchez describes the wine cellar as "breathing history," in some ways, the food is intended to taste like history, with each chef learning from his predecessor and then passing the recipes down to the next generation. "Our recipes are very old, from when the grandfathers started the restaurant," he added. "And we've stayed true to those recipes ever since."

Still, Botin Restaurant isn't completely stuck in the past. It has a website and all the necessary social media accounts. And of course, it's also on TripAdvisor where people can leave reviews like, "Eh, I've heard this place peaked back in 1831."

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