• Spain's news in English
 

Tax officers topple top chef's restaurant dream

Published: 26 Jun 2013 12:50 GMT+02:00

Star chef Sergi Arola saw his Bistrot Gastro restaurant shut down by tax office officials on Tuesday.

At the same time, he and his wife, restaurant sommelier Sara Fort, were slapped with a bill for €148,000 in unpaid tax debts.  

To make matters worse, Arola— a one-time student of the world-famous Spanish chef Ferran Adrià — also owes the Social Security department €160,000.

"The restaurant of my dreams has turned into a nightmare,"  Arola told Spanish radio station Cadena SER on Tuesday.

The chef from Barcelona explained he had first found out about the closure of the restaurant while he was in Paris, preparing for trip to Lisbon.

"Honestly, I'm in a state of shock, I can't believe it," he told Cadena SER:

Asked whether the restaurant closure was something he'd been expecting, Arola said: "We were fearing it.

"We had spent eight months keeping up with tax and social security payments and we were starting to see a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel. That's why it came as a such a blow."

"The officials turned up at around in the afternoon and didn't leave until six," Arola's wife Fort told national daily newspaper El País.

She said the tax agents closed up the cocktail bar and the cellar, and "would have closed the dining room too" if it hadn't been for the 40 guests present.

"They turned up without warning. If they had (warned us) we would have taken a few bottles to be able to serve people," Fort told the daily.

"The customers reacted well when they saw what was happening and some even brought their own wine," said the sommelier, who El País described as "visibly affected".

But there are still signs of hope for the couple.

Fort said that while she and Arola wouldn't be able to serve customers until debts where settled, shutting up shop forever was not yet on the cards.

A final closure could be avoided, she said, "if the bank supports us in this project and believes in the prestige of Sergi".

According to El País, the tax office did not accept Arola's assertions that the business was still viable, despite a regime of spending cuts at the establishment.

Fort said, though, that staff at the restaurant were still "motivated".

"They have given a lot, and have even accepted lower pay," she said.

"Having a gastronomic restaurant in Spain is extremely expensive," Arola told Cadena SER.

"Unfortunately we set up in 2006 when we thought Spain was a 'first division' country, and that this was a land of milk and honey."

Arola and Fort also run restaurants in Barcelona, Portugal, São Paulo, Chile y Bombay.

Asked whether those restaurants were still earning, Arola said: "Yes, but everything that I earn I have to invest in this well that is Madrid. 

George Mills (george.mills@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Ciudadanos gains as Podemos wanes
Albert Rivera, leader of Ciudadanos. Photo: AFP

Ciudadanos gains as Podemos wanes

The latest poll shows that newest political party, Ciudadanos – Citizens – which expanded from a regional Catalan party to a nationwide force early this year is now more popular than Podemos. READ  

Wine production
Wine: China overtakes France but Spain reigns
Vinyards in Samaniego, La Rioja. Photo: Cesar Manso / AFP

Wine: China overtakes France but Spain reigns

China now has the second-largest wine-growing area in the world after Spain, pushing France into third place, according to figures released Monday by the International Organisation of Vine and Wine. READ  

Woofs and wifi: Is this world's coolest church?
San Antón church in Madrid offers free wifi. Photo: Sara Houlison.

Woofs and wifi: Is this world's coolest church?

Nestled among the trendy cafes and shops of Madrid's Chueca neighbourhood is a church like no other, where you can browse the internet, confess via your iPad and bring along your pet poodle. Is San Anton the coolest church in the world? READ  

PM: Recovery threatened by political instability
Mariano Rajoy at a press conference in Seyne-Les-Alpes following GermanWings crash. Photo: Boris Horvat / AFP

PM: Recovery threatened by political instability

Spain's economic recovery is being threatened by political instability and the crisis in debt-plagued Greece, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said Monday. READ  

Spain's arms firms fail to meet grade on ethics
A naval vessel christening ceremony in the Navantia shipyard near Cadiz. Photo: Jorge Guerrero / AFP.

Spain's arms firms fail to meet grade on ethics

Spanish defence companies failed to make passing grades in an analysis of ethics and corruption standards released by Transparency International UK on Monday. READ  

Nepal Earthquake
Spaniards still missing in Nepal after earthquake
A Nepali woman pictured among the devastation of Kathmandu after Saturday's earthquake. Photo: Prakash Singh/AFP

Spaniards still missing in Nepal after earthquake

Over 100 Spaniards are still unaccounted for after Saturday’s earthquake in the Himalayan nation, which left over 3,000 people dead, as the Spanish air force launches an evacuation mission for Spaniards trapped in the country. READ  

Sagrada Familia mass for Germanwings victims

Sagrada Familia mass for Germanwings victims

Over 1,000 people are expected to attend a memorial service to the victims of Germanwings flight 9525 in Barcelona’s iconic cathedral on Monday evening, just over a month after the disaster. READ  

My Spanish Career
'I've made a few enemies, even in Spain'
Delfin Mocache from Equatorial Guinea set up Diario Rombe in Valencia. Photo: Agustin Millan

'I've made a few enemies, even in Spain'

In the latest instalment of My Spanish Career The Local talks to Delfin Mocache, editor of Diario Rombe, one of the few media that openly criticises the political regime in his home country of Equatorial Guinea. READ  

Broken pinky disaster for Marquez in MotoGP
Marc Marquez during Argentina Grand Prix. Photo: Juan Mabromata / AFP

Broken pinky disaster for Marquez in MotoGP

MotoGP world champion Marc Marquez's participation in next weekend's Spanish Grand Prix is in doubt after he broke a finger during a crash in training, Spanish media reported on Saturday. READ  

Spain royals 'no longer untouchable'
Photo: AFP

Spain royals 'no longer untouchable'

A new tell-all book that details what led to Spanish king Juan Carlos giving up the throne would never have been published just a few years ago in a Spain still deferential to the royal family, experts said. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
King Juan Carlos led 'double-life' with lover
National
British expats fall victim to NHS clampdown
Travel
Benidorm: Cultural wonder of the world?
Features
Ten best UNESCO world heritage sites in Spain
Features
All the fun of the fair: Seville's Feria de Abril
Features
Happy book day! Top ten Spanish literary gifts
National
Off with her hair! Queen Letizia debuts new do
National
Barcelona bans tourists from famous market
Travel
Location tours start for 'Game of Thrones' fans
National
Top ten things to do in Castellón
First house sold by lottery ticket in Spain
National
Official: Francisco Franco was a dictator
National
Rockers pen 'We don't love Ryanair' ballad
National
Olives and vino at risk from climate change
National
Olé! Madonna orders tour bullfighting suits
National
Jihadists planned attacks in Spain: judge
Politics
Spain's 'Citizens' party fires up voters
Travel
'No pooing': village tells pilgrims in north Spain
National
Spain's newest export to France: Vultures
National
Spain gets first memorial stones to Nazi victims
National
What's on in Spain: April 2015
National
Town in shock at expat double murder
National
Brit family of four dead after Gibraltar stabbing
Can the 'nightmare' of a pilot downing a plane be prevented?
National
Priest arrested for exorcism on anorexic girl
National
Could this be Spain's own Maggie Thatcher?
National
Spain outstrips France and Italy in wine exports
National
What country is Catalonia most like?
International
Exposed: actress who faked Oscar glory
National
Brooms up! Quidditch casts its spell over Spain
Society
Ten phrases you'll only hear at work in Spain
International
Spanish crowned world's happiest language
National
Eight cool things the crisis did for Spain
Travel
Top Ten: Spain's best beaches for 2015
National
Euro property bargains up for grabs in Spain
What's On
Spain's craziest carnivals
National
Spanish town fights 'Fifty Shades' bondage hotel
International
Vinnie Jones teaches Spanish in hilarious ad
What's On
Ten golden rules for snagging a Spanish man
Property
House sales up for first year since crisis began
Gallery
The highs and lows of the Spanish property market
National
The five strangest things about Spaniards
International
What's keeping UK expats from voting?
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,290
jobs available
?>