• Spain's news in English
 

Tax officers topple top chef's restaurant dream

George Mills · 26 Jun 2013, 12:50

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".

Story continues below…

"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
US to extradite Salvadoran colonel over Jesuit murders
A procession to commemorate the victims. Photo: Marvin Recinos / AFP

US to extradite Salvadoran colonel over Jesuit murders
33 minutes ago

A US judge on Friday approved the extradition to Spain of a Salvadoran former colonel linked to the 1989 murders of six Jesuit priests, in a decision lauded by rights groups.

The Local list
Ten great Spanish films you need to watch now
Photo: Estudios Picasso/IMDB

Ten great Spanish films you need to watch now
58 minutes ago

As Spain looks forward to its biggest film award show of the year, The Local counts down Spain's greatest ever movies.

Spanish government stuck in limbo as coalition talks stall
Photo: AFP

Spanish government stuck in limbo as coalition talks stall
19 hours ago

Party leaders are struggling to break the deadlock with no indications that a compromise can be struck.

Airbnb poses 'biggest threat' insists Spanish tourism chief
Photo: AFP

Airbnb poses 'biggest threat' insists Spanish tourism chief
20 hours ago

A hotel chain boss has lashed out at the home rental websites for "killing the exemplary tourism model".

The Local list
Six Spanish secrets on how to live to the age of a hundred
Ana María Vela, 114, is Spain's oldest resident. Screenshot Youtube

Six Spanish secrets on how to live to the age of a hundred
21 hours ago

Just what is the secret to Spaniards' longevity?

Australian hands over €100K to 'boyfriend' in Spanish scam
Photo: Raja Syazwina/Flickr

Australian hands over €100K to 'boyfriend' in Spanish scam
1 day ago

The woman was scammed out of €100,000 believing she was paying her fictitious boyfriend's medical costs.

Misled shareholders file class action lawsuit against Bankia
Protestors demonstrate against Bankia. Photo: AFP

Misled shareholders file class action lawsuit against Bankia
1 day ago

More than 600 small shareholders are suing the bank for misleading them to convert their savings to shares.

Could this be the last gasp for smoking in Spanish cinema?
Screen grab: aalexjander/YouTube

Could this be the last gasp for smoking in Spanish cinema?
1 day ago

Spanish films feature four times as much smoking as those in Hollywood.

The Local list
Ten of Spain's most romantic getaways for Valentine's Day
Photo: Farid Iqbal Ibrahim/Flickr

Ten of Spain's most romantic getaways for Valentine's Day
1 day ago

From sunset strolls to fireside cosiness Spain offers the perfect setting to woo your sweetheart. Here are some of our favourites.

Retrial ordered for Spaniard after 15 years on death row
Pablo Ibar has spent 22 years behind bars.Photo: AFP

Retrial ordered for Spaniard after 15 years on death row
1 day ago

The top court in Florida has ordered a retrial for the triple murders more than two decades ago.

Sponsored Article
US taxes and FATCA: 'The time for hiding is over'
National
UK rallies expats in Spain ahead of referendum on Brexit
National
Secret to long life? Spaniard lived to 107 on 'red wine diet'
National
Ten Spanish corruption scandals that will take your breath away
National
Watch: Gravity-defying stunts at Spain's Wind Tunnel Games
National
10 English words you'd never guess were really Spanish
National
Madrid to rename Francoist streets after terrorism victims
National
Olé? Bullfighter takes five-month-old baby into the ring
National
Watch: Moment south Spain struck by 6.3 magnitude quake
Travel
9 charming Spanish towns to visit before the tourists come
National
Heartbroken parents publish suicide note from bullied son
National
Spain launches new reality TV show: 'I want to be a nun'
National
Eleven very good reasons to be happy you live in Spain
National
Loyal dog waits two months at hospital door for dead owner
Younger, scruffier, and with a babe in arms: This is Spain's new elite
National
Ten adrenaline-fuelled adventures for thrill-seekers in Spain
National
Ten things you need to know about the new president of Catalonia
National
Spain's Princess Cristina: From fairy tale life to national 'baddie'
Politics
Seven reasons why forming a new government is mission impossible
National
Eight essential ways to tackle the winter months like a true Spaniard
National
How to be a mermaid: Swimming academy makes a splash in Spain
Lifestyle
10 resolutions to make the most of life in Spain in 2016
National
Spain’s public holidays in 2016: Official list
Features
Black diamonds: How a corner of Spain became world's truffle capital
2,943
jobs available