The story of elBarri
In Barcelona, elBarri was a restaurant group like no other. The quality of the projects carried out in recent years does not have equal in the world. The engine of this entrepreneurial creativity applied to gastronomy was due, up to now, to a company of brilliant minds, starting with Albert Adrià, brother of Ferran, chef and restaurateur of rare intuition and talent, who developed the elBarri empire together with the Iglesias brothers, Juan Carlos, Borja and Pedro. In the last few hours, however, the group announced an inevitable dissolution, following a year of great managerial difficulties, which resulted in 8 million euros in debt, and 230 employees on paychecks. It is a case that we observed from afar, but emblematic of the suffering experienced by restaurants all over the world, destined to leave aftermath even in the home of the most solid formations. In Barcelona elBarri has so far managed five venues: Tickets, Bodega 1900, Hoja Santa, Pakta and Enigma. Restaurants that have revolutionised the city’s dining scene, launching the Catalan capital on the international gastronomy scene, and paving the way for many projects born in recent years.
The elBarri crisis
Before the pandemic, elBarri was a financially healthy, successful group; a year later, things changed, and now the priority is to streamline the management of activities, to try to save at least a small part of the work done so far. Therefore the partners are going each their own way, even if the Iglesias brothers do not exclude the possibility of rejoining Adrià in the future. But the only restaurant destined to survive will be Enigma, although it will not be able to restart immediately. On the other hand, the era of Tickets (the most famous and iconic venue of the group), Hoja Santa, Bodega 1900 and Pakta as we have known them so far, now ends definitively. “Enigma, on the other hand, is mine, not controlled by the group,” Albert Adrià underlined, specifying that he will keep the project alive, probably only starting next year. Thus ends “a dream that lasted ten years, which will nevertheless remain a beautiful memory,” says Adrià bitterly.
The bankruptcy filing. A rescue attempt
The group’s restaurants had never reopened after the first lockdown in spring 2020, now elBarri has filed for bankruptcy, and the Iglesias brothers hope in the interest of some entrepreneur who can help them resume their activities, to avoid their total resolution. Certainly, however, any restart will be different from what Tickets and the other brands of the elBarri project have represented for Spanish and international restaurants.