In a hurry and working from home

Few clients in bars and restaurants on their first day back

The manager of a bar in Barcelona's Sagrera district opens the shutters of the cafeteria after 38 days of closure / FRANCESC MELCION

Bar Andalucía on Espronceda street is an institution in Poblenou. It reopens today, of course, after the closure of bars and restaurants to face the second wave of covid-19. Antonio is on top form, he receives the usual customers and the new ones with overflowing enthusiasm despite the fact that it isn't that busy, like the neighbourhood: "There is a lot of working from home and it will take a while to gain momentum. Since 1969, the Andalucía, implacable, is a lung of the neighbourhood: "We'll bounce back; the situation is complicated and you have to understand the measures that have been taken. The Andalucía relies on lunches menus but also big Saturday breakfasts, with some neighbours and visitors who appreciate them very much.

The Andalucía has already asked for two government loans to help it cut its losses and appreciate the good summer's work. Three regular customers have been able to return to their daily aperitif; they seem happy to be able to take their place at the bar again. Three years from now Antonio will retire and none of his three children will take over the business. He still has many portions of gut, blood sausage and fried fish to serve.

70% of Barcelona's and restaurants reopen, but request longer opening hours

With the news of the reopening, the restaurateurs' guild has shown itself impatient to demand a 50% occupancy rate in the interior and also to extend the opening hours to 11 pm. A new "we're in a hurry" that runs up against the recommendations for patient easing of restrictions. "It's normal to be nervous, you have to understand everyone's situations, but safety should come first," says Maties, who is waiting for the second course on the Soco terrace on Carrer Bilbao. He's been working from home for months and was looking forward to going out for lunch to start the week. Marga's case is just the opposite. She often ate in the neighbourhood but now she has been leaving the office in Carrer Pere IV for a few months and is taking the metro to go home for lunch. It's eight stops, changing lines.

In the Rambla del Poblenou it's very quiet. The terraces are all set up, but at half past two there is a shortage of diners. At Nice Spice, on Carrer Subidas, two couples working together have gone out to eat. They will have a good selection of Pakistani cuisine. A gift to celebrate a new project of the company: "We had wanted to do it for days but the lockdown and the curfew made it impossible". Today is a beautiful day for them. At the crossroads of Pallars and Lope de Vega a handful of bars and restaurants coexist. Can Vicenç, Casa Tino, Pequeño Bar and El Faro have very similar situations: outside only one or two tables are occupied for lunch. "Patience!", exclaims one of the waiters. "Have you felt well treated by the administration?" "Well, there have been aids and certain facilities but too many doubts and improvisation, right?"

Observation allows one to notice small details in a neighbourhood that are easily overlooked in the hustle and bustle. For example, subway entrances benefit the 100-meter radius around them. Orbiting with the Poblenou exit, Line 4, a bakery, a cafeteria and a pizza-slice shop. All three have continued to operate thanks to home delivery  and all three have now put outside seating back up. The rush hour, the entrance and exit of the offices, the standing lunch and the quick snack. This is also how you explain life in a neighbourhood, this is also how you explain "new normality". Also like this, eating standing up, running to get everywhere, you can explain every first day of the world.

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