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Legendary cafe “Navarra” on Paseo de Gracia closes after an 85-year history

navarra cafe barcelona

The history of this café traces back to 1932 and often is linked with the name Esteve Sala Cañadell, an outstanding restauranteur from those times. He came up with the idea to create the café “Navarra” when he was travelling around the Basque region. He found the top-quality products used in the local restaurant establishments remarkable and was enamored of the unique style in every tavern. The businessman also noticed the employees’ sincere, dedicated attitude towards their businesses.

Upon his return to Barcelona, Sala Cañadell picked out a perfect place for the café-restaurant: on a corner near the Plaza de Catalunya. During the designing process, the whimsical modernist ornaments that were created uniquely by the architect Enric Sagnier had to be hidden thoroughly. The hall was renovated and the original look of the place was restored.

Sala Cañadell invited the Basque chef Domingo Riereta, along with his team, to work in the new establishment. The café was named very simply, “Euzkadi,” and it opened on the Christmas Eve of 1932. Despite the obvious dominance of Basque regional dishes on the menu and the interior decorations, the restaurant has always remained politically neutral.

Since the first day of its existence, the terrace café has been a trendy hub for local residents. Representatives of the elite, including such writers and artists as Riquer, Agustí, Juan Arbó, Ramon Xuriguera, Teixidor, Miquel i Vergés, Vinyoli, Grau Sala, Prim, Merli, Benguerel, Espriu, and G. Díaz-Plaja were frequent visitors to the establishment. In 1939, Franco prohibited the use of the name, “Euzkadi,” and it was replaced with the name, “Navarra.” Throughout the 1960s, “Navarra” experienced a complete modernization, a process that was repeated once more in its later history.

As media sources report, the building owner did not approve of the restaurant owner’s initiatives to perform reconstruction works with the purpose of preventing the total destruction of the restaurant. Today, the building is covered with a huge tarpaulin, and the café is already a historical artifact.


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