At the World's Oldest Restaurant, the Fire Has Been Burning for 239 Years
They've never turned the oven off at Madrid's Botin Restaurant.
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, Botin Restaurant in Madrid, Spain, has probably been through a few leases: At 293 years old, it’s recognized by Guinness World Records as the oldest continuously operating restaurant in the world.
The YouTube channel Great Big Story recently dropped by Botin Restaurant to see if they could uncover any of its secrets. Deputy manager Luis Javier Sanchez, who has worked for at Botin for 41 years, explained that the restaurant has been open since 1725 (in case you hate doing math).
However, even more impressive is the oven: “It is our jewel. Our crown jewel,” Sanchez says. “The oven has been burning continuously for 293 years. I’ll repeat that: 293 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.”
Equally incredible is how dedicated the restaurant says it is to maintaining the cuisine is 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 continues. “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.”