• 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
FOCUS: IMF praises Spain's 'virtuous circle'
Pablo Iglesias, leader of the Spanish populist left party Podemos, who the IMF warns threaten the recovery. Photo: ARIS MESSINIS / AFP

FOCUS: IMF praises Spain's 'virtuous circle'

Spain has emerged from a devastating crisis and entered a "virtuous circle" with faster growth than its neighbours, but the IMF warns that high unemployment and the rise of populist parties still threaten the recovery. READ  

Hundreds protest ETA terrorist releases
People hold a Spanish flag as thousands gather Plaza de Colon in Madrid during a demonstration called by the Victims of Terrorism Association (AVT) association in Madrid. Photo: DANI POZO / AFP

Hundreds protest ETA terrorist releases

Hundreds of Spaniards rallied in Madrid on Saturday accusing the government of betraying them by allowing the release of jailed convicts from the armed Basque separatist group ETA. READ  

Police seize jihadi cell prepared to attack Spain
Police in Ceuta during another operation. Photo: Policia

Police seize jihadi cell prepared to attack Spain

Spanish police on Saturday arrested four suspected Islamist extremists who it said were prepared to launch attacks in Spain, the government said. READ  

War injuries could identify Cervantes' bones
Francisco Etxeberria at work on a dig in 2013. Photo: Aranzadi

War injuries could identify Cervantes' bones

Researchers looking for the remains of Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes, the author of "Don Quixote", said on Friday that his war injuries could hold the key to identifying him. READ  

'Spain's PM knew of slush fund from the start'
The former-treasurer of Spain's ruling Popular Party Luis Bárcenas leaves Soto del Real Prison on Thursday, the day before making his claim against Rajoy. Photo: AFP

'Spain's PM knew of slush fund from the start'

An ex-official of Spain's governing party reignited a corruption scandal on Friday, months ahead of a general election, by alleging Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy knowingly tolerated irregular payments to politicians. READ  

Evicted in Madrid: family with one-month-old baby
Members of Spain's PAH anti-evictions lobby in November 13th. Photo: AFP

Evicted in Madrid: family with one-month-old baby

Over 50 police were allegedly on hand in Madrid on Friday for the home eviction of a family with three children including a six-week-old baby. READ  

Airport operator Aena to be floated on Feb 11th

Airport operator Aena to be floated on Feb 11th

Spain's government will float a minority stake in the world's largest airport operator, Aena, on the stock market on February 11th, Transport Minister Ana Pastor said on Friday. READ  

What's on in Spain: February 2015
Performers parade during the drag queen competition during the spectacular Las Palmas Carnival, in Gran Canaria, in 2013. Photo: Desiree Martin/AFP.

What's on in Spain: February 2015

From blowing away the cobwebs at the Seville marathon to marvelling at the creating of the most exciting new designers at Madrid fashion week, here are some of the best events going on around Spain in February, all guaranteed to beat those winter blues. READ  

Spain minimum wage too low: Council of Europe
Photo of a builder: Shutterstock

Spain minimum wage too low: Council of Europe

The Spanish minimum wage of €648.60 ($730) a month is not sufficient to ensure a decent standard of living, the Council of Europe has said in a new report. READ  

Drug bust: 55 arrested in raids on hash ring
Photo of a joint: Shutterstock

Drug bust: 55 arrested in raids on hash ring

Spanish police have seized 11 tonnes of hashish and detained 55 people as part of a vast operation targeting a Moroccan drug trafficking ring, sources said on Friday. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
Spanish jobseekers fail exam with answers
National
Moving to Spain: a guide for beginners
National
Spain's new penal code: key talking points
International
Spain among Europe's cheapest nations: study
Features
Top ten surprising Spanish inventions
National
Spain's Repsol ends Canary oil exploration
National
Court to study paternity suit against ex-king
National
Europe in statistics - from Spain to Sweden
Politics
Catalan president calls early regional election
National
Top ten: must-know Spanish superstitions
International
'Change Schengen rules to catch Islamists': Spain
What's On
Ten ways to spice up your Spanish life in 2015
Health
Spain tops world organ donation rankings
National
5 things no one tells you about renting in Spain
National
'No Pants Subway Ride' hits Madrid Metro
National
Spain's satirical mags back Charlie Hebdo
National
Spain tightens security after Paris terror attack
National
Finally: a Spanish PM bothers to visit Andorra
National
Woman fined for being kissed while driving
Travel
Top travel highlights in Spain for 2015
National
Gallery: Hits and misses of Antonio Banderas
National
Spain's top news in 2015: The Local's predictions
National
Spain's public holidays in 2015: Official list
National
Christmas fireball lights up Spanish skies
National
Top ten: Spain's biggest stories of 2014
International
Madrid: mouse delays international flight for six hours
National
Confirmed: Spain's Princess Cristina to be tried for fraud
National
Did Vikings settle as far south as Spain?
National
Nativity donkey squashed by fat fan
Society
Lifting the lid on Spain's mysterious Christmas lottery
National
Why has The Local got a new logo?
What's On
Top 12 things to do in Spain over Christmas
Politics
Spain passes tough new 'anti-protest' law
Business & Money
Google News quits Spain in paid content row
What's On
How to party like a Spaniard: the ultimate guide
Society
Madrid's shocking slum shames Spanish capital
National
Policeman mauled by lions at Barcelona zoo
Business & Money
Uber eyes appeal against Spain ban
Travel
Google offers virtual views of Spain's wonders
Education
Three Spanish business schools makes Europe's top 10
Health
Spain officially free of Ebola: World Health Organization
Travel
Ten Spanish museums you need to know about
National
Can you pass the Spanish citizenship test?
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

622
jobs available