• 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)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Sport
Ronaldo praised as Real win 8-2 in La Liga
Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring during the Spanish league football match against RC Deportivo de la Coruna. AFP Photo/Miguel Riopa

Ronaldo praised as Real win 8-2 in La Liga

Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti lauded Cristiano Ronaldo's killer instinct in front of goal after the Portuguese scored his 23rd hat-trick for Los Blancos in a 8-2 rout at Deportivo la Coruna on Saturday. READ  

Spain to fly back Ebola victim from Africa
Brother Manuel Garcia Viejo with a patient at San Juan de Dios hospital in Lusar, Sierra Leone. AFP Photo/ Ho/ Juan Ciudad Ongd

Spain to fly back Ebola victim from Africa

Spain is sending a plane to fly a Catholic missionary infected with the deadly Ebola virus home from Sierra Leone, officials said Saturday. READ  

Breaking
Catalan parliament okays independence vote law
The law was passed with 106 votes in favour and 28 against. Photo: Josep Lago/AFP

Catalan parliament okays independence vote law

Catalonia's regional parliament on Friday passed a law that its leaders say will authorise them to hold a non-binding "consultation" on independence from Spain on November 9. READ  

Spanish thief jailed for €640 ham heist
The man broke a car window to steal the ham but was stopped and arrested by police before he could eat any of it. Photo: Flickr/coche jamonero

Spanish thief jailed for €640 ham heist

A 27-year-old Spanish man has been sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison and ordered to pay €7,960 ($10,237) compensation for stealing a cured ham worth €640 ($823) then assaulting two police officers. READ  

Hospital turns kids' MRI into space odyssey
HP has used the latest in latex printing to decorate the once bland and lifeless walls and equipment with huge images of stars, planets and astronauts. Photo: Sant Joan de Déu Hospital

Hospital turns kids' MRI into space odyssey

A Barcelona hospital has been able to reduce general anaesthetic among its child patients needing MRI scans by 18 percent thanks to an innovative new scheme that relaxes them. READ  

Madrid mayor appoints soon-to-retire cop chief
Botella's new appointment as chief inspector is retiring in October and has three weeks of holiday to take before then. Photo:FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

Madrid mayor appoints soon-to-retire cop chief

Madrid mayor Ana Botella has been stood up by fire, police and ambulance personnel on her visit to their new joint headquarters because of her "disrespectful" appointment of a new police chief who has just weeks in the job before he retires. READ  

Spain welcomes Scots' 'no' but Catalans unfazed
A Catalan supporter of the 'Yes' campaign holds up a banner outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. Photo: Lesley Martin/AFP

Spain welcomes Scots' 'no' but Catalans unfazed

The Spanish government on Friday welcomed Scotland's "No" vote on independence, but Catalans set on breaking away from Spain vowed to push on for their own ballot on self-rule. READ  

Malaga gang rape accuser: 'I made it up'
A "selfie" taken at the time of the alleged rape showed the girl relaxing with three of the men on a fairground ride safety mat. File photo: Luis Guerrero

Malaga gang rape accuser: 'I made it up'

A woman who accused five men of raping her in a Spanish fairground in August has admitted to a judge that the sex was consensual and that she invented the rape claim to prevent video footage of the sex being made public. READ  

Shark attacks boy on Spanish beach
Witnesses reported that the boy was bitten by a blue shark, a common Mediterranean species. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Mark Conlin/NMFS

Shark attacks boy on Spanish beach

A 16-year-old boy playing in the sea at the popular Catalan tourist town of Salou this month needed thirty stitches after being bitten on the hand by a shark. READ  

Catalonia crisis
Madrid ready to fight as Catalonia 'legalizes' vote
Artur Mas will not call the November 9th referendum on self-rule immediately after the “consultation” bill is passed. Photo: Pierre Philippe Marcou/AFP

Madrid ready to fight as Catalonia 'legalizes' vote

Spain’s central government will hold an extraordinary cabinet meeting on Saturday or Sunday if Catalonia’s regional parliament approves the “consultation” law on the referendum on Friday, a move it hopes will make a possible independence vote more legal. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
Loud porn movie scares locals into calling cops
National
'We'll axe Catalan autonomy but won't send in tanks'
National
Spain's Thatcher square defaced by 'Brits'
National
Top 10: best Spanish movies of all time
Marks & Spencer
Sponsored Article
Fashion Ladies of the Local: Win a New Autumn Look
National
Gravedigger suspended for corpse photo gaffe
Society
Named: the best city to live in Spain
National
Catalonia's 'Diada': 5 things you need to know
Travel
Top ten amazing activities in Tenerife
National
Spain opens door to ban on burqas
Travel
Top ten: best bike rides in Spain
Travel
Spain to reopen 'world's most dangerous walk': The Camino del Rey
National
'Catalonia could be the shock Spain needs'
National
Office slang: Top ten Spanish expressions
Sport
Think you know Spanish football? Try these amazing facts
International
Australia set to welcome young Spanish workers
Opinion
Is tourism destroying Barcelona?
Society
Fashion fail: Zara pulls plug on 'Holocaust shirt' for kids
National
Man hurt as friend swaps ice bucket for plane
Spain 'would block independent Scotland from joining EU'
Politics
Spain 'would block independent Scotland from joining EU'
International
Spanish police mistake Morocco's king for people smuggler
What's On
What's on in Spain: September
Society
Miss Spain comes out of closet on Instagram
Travel
Top ten: Spain's best natural swimming pools
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

1,661
jobs available