• Spain edition
 
Tax officers topple top chef's restaurant dream
"Honestly, I'm in a state of shock, I can't believe it," said chef Sergi Arola on hearing his restaurant had been closed down. Photo: YouTube

Tax officers topple top chef's restaurant dream

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

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Missing Air Algérie flight 'has crashed': Reports
File photo: Airlines470/Flickr

Missing Air Algérie flight 'has crashed': Reports

LIVE UPDATES: An aircraft owned by Spanish company Swiftair, crewed by Spaniards, and operated by Air Algérie has crashed with 119 people on board according to an Algerian aviation official. READ  

WWF calls for Canary Islands whale sanctuary
The WWF is pushing for the creation of a sanctuary for whales and dolphins near the Canary Islands, home to nearly a third of the cetacean species on the planet. Photo: Joachim S. Müller/Flickr

WWF calls for Canary Islands whale sanctuary

The environment group WWF is calling for the creation of a whale sanctuary off the Canary Islands after Spanish energy giant Repsol announced recently it wants to start exploratory drilling for oil and gas in the region in October. READ  

Robots could take half of jobs in Spain
The study from Brussels think-tank Bruegel found 55.3 percent of jobs in Spain at the moment could be computerized. Photo of robot :Shutterstock

Robots could take half of jobs in Spain

More than half of the jobs currently being done in Spain could be taken over by robots in the next 20 years, according to a think-tank. READ  

JobTalk Spain
'Being an au pair in Spain can be really tough'
Marion spent ten months as an au-pair with a Spanish family in Madrid and took the opportunity to visit the mythical Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, home to Real Madrid.

'Being an au pair in Spain can be really tough'

Every year, thousands of youngsters move to Spain as au pairs to learn a new language, see the country and find out about the culture. But is the experience everything it's cracked up to be? The Local's Cécilia Brès investigates. READ  

Madrid train evacuated after brakes catch fire
A suburban 'Cercanias' train at Pinar de Las Rozas station. File photo: Hugh Llewelyn

Madrid train evacuated after brakes catch fire

A suburban train in Madrid was evacuated on Thursday morning after the train's brakes caught fire: service has now resumed on the line. READ  

Catalonia crisis
'A divided Spain will weaken EU': French PM
Valls, who speaks better Catalan than he does Spanish, met with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Wednesday. Photo: Javier Soriano/AFP

'A divided Spain will weaken EU': French PM

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, born in Barcelona to Catalan parents, has sided with Spain's leader Mariano Rajoy on the issue of Catalonia’s call for independence. READ  

402,000 Spaniards find work in three months

402,000 Spaniards find work in three months

Over 400,000 people went back to work in the second quarter of 2014, the highest such three-month figure since the middle of 2005, official figures released on Thursday show. READ  

53 freed drug suspects sent back to prison

53 freed drug suspects sent back to prison

Over 50 alleged drug smugglers who had previously been released from detention will now have to return to prison, the latest blow to new Spanish laws which prevent judges from trying international cases READ  

The Local List
Top ten 'English' words made in Spain: Part 2
Anybody fancy going 'puenting' aka bungee jumping? Photo: Tomas Cuba

Top ten 'English' words made in Spain: Part 2

When it comes to adapting the English to their own needs, the Spaniards are masters. In our latest picture gallery, The Local takes a look at ten more 'English' words that people in Spain have made their own. READ  

Slow but steady: Spain's economy keeps growing
Spain's economy emerged last year from its second recession in five years, achieving growth of 0.1 percent in the third quarter. Photo of warehouse: Shutterstock

Slow but steady: Spain's economy keeps growing

The Spanish economy continued to claw its slow way back towards recovery, expanding in the first quarter of 2014 by 0.5 percent, the fastest rate in six years, the central bank said on Wednesday. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Politics
Merkel snubs Catalonia's independence plans
International
Ancient graffiti proves Spain's Irish links
National
Underwater nightmare: man trapped for 20 hours in cave
What's On
Top Ten: Summer music festivals in Spain 2014
National
Risky business: Man snaps selfie during Running of the Bulls
International
Finland to house sub-zero Sagrada Familia
National
Scorcher: Summer's first heatwave hits Spain
International
Magaluf cracks down on wild pub crawls
Society
Spanish naturist paradise bans nudity by mistake
National
Airbnb fined €30,000 over 'illegal' apartments
National
VIDEO: Landing aborted in Barcelona 'near miss'
Culture
Top 10 Spanish locations to film Game of Thrones
Culture
What's on in Spain: July 2014
Society
VIDEO: Man arrested after racist attack on Barcelona Metro
Culture
Sheikh to turn Barcelona bullring into mega-mosque
Culture
Spanish top model swaps catwalk for nunnery
Travel
Granada, not Grenada! Airline sued over mix-up
Culture
IN PICTURES: Spain's baby jumping festival
National
King Felipe of Spain: his life in pictures
National
Spanish pilots ordered to speak only English
Society
'How to stop kids being gay' books shock Spain
National
Catalonia to fine drivers using Uber taxi app
Culture
Spain's new queen Letizia: Ten great looks
Sponsored Article
CurrencyFair: Why it pays when making overseas transfers
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

1,519
jobs available