The Bar Pinotxo has closed. The historic bar-restaurant stall in Barcelona's best known market, the Boqueria, failed to raise its shutters this Monday. The origin of the closure lies in family disputes between the legendary owner of the market establishment, Joan Bayén, and his nephews, who had been managing the bar until its closure. The ownership of the classic bar and eatery at the very front of the market has now been transferred to the owners of another stall in the Boqueria. It was just a few months ago that Joan Bayén - better known as Juanito - received a tribute for his contribution to the life of not just the market beside the Rambla but to the city of Barcelona, at the head of the legendary bar Pinotxo.
Family disagreements close the Pinotxo bar
Llike so many market businesses, Pinotxo was a family affair, and it was family disagreements about the management, ownership and operation of the bar between the family's nephews and Bayén that resulted in a dispute that has been settled with the sudden transfer of the stall by the legendary Joan Bayén. This week has been much anticipated by many regular customers of the Boqueria, as on-going remodelling works in the market reached a midway point and part of the market that had been closed - including the Pinotxo - was due to reopen. But alas, customers who walked in on Monday saw how all the shutters on the right-hand side of the market were up again - except for those of the historic Bar Pinotxo. Under the management of the new owners, it is not yet known if they will keep the name (which is the Catalan version of Pinocchio), let alone its essence and trajectory, or if they will completely change the design and gastronomic offering.
Eighty years at the Pinotxo bar
El Juanito, as he is known to friends, was born in 1934 in Barcelona's Raval neighbourhood, in which the Boqueria market stands. He started working behind the bar of the now emblematic Pinotxo bar with his mother Catalina almost eighty years ago. Catalina started by making sandwiches and coffee, but over time, Juanito changed the gastronomic offer to traditional dishes of Catalan cuisine such as cap i pota (head and hocks - of veal), cigrons amb botifarra negra (chickpeas with black sausage) and calamarsons amb mongetes (squid with beans), among many others, and he received the Ciutat de Barcelona Award for Gastronomy in 2015, eight years ago now.
Juanito opened the bar every day punctually at 6 in the morning, making coffee for his fellow market stall holders and friends every day before the market opened. He always said that he was never tired but was much more hungry, and could not stop working. Over time he became an icon of the Boqueria. He was and is loved by everyone because of his affable and unique character. To take a stool at the Pinotxo was to step into a bygone era, where you could, for the price of a tallat or a canya, enjoy the Boqueria as it had always been, without additives or preservatives.
First day of partial reopening at the Boqueria
On January 17th, remodeling works for the Boqueria market began on the muntanya side - that is, the mountain or uphill side of the market - so all the stalls to the right of the central aisle were closed and covered with plastic tarpaulins, separated from the rest by temporary plaster walls. This first intervention lasted until this past Sunday, February 19th. So, regulars who didn't know the news expected the Pinotxo bar to reopen its doors this Monday after being closed for a month, but the roller blinds remained down. Now we have to wait for the day the stall reopens and see what name it will greet customers with.
Meanwhile, the rest of the remodeling continues with the mar side of the market - the side closest to the sea - until March 26th. With a cost of 1.4 million euros, the works will allow 3,600 square metres to be reconditioned - but not changed. The works are part of the maintenance plan of Barcelona's Municipal Institute of Markets.