***The following is a tongue in cheek story, based on many, many, many true stories***
It appears to be the British dream. Give up a well paid job in the UK, fly over to Spain, plough all of your children’s inheritance into a bar, run it for a year, then retire off the earnings. They call it a dream for a reason, you know.
Choose your location well. In practice, this often means either buying a previous bar after the owner “retires” (often leaving a mountain of debt that causes local businessmen to visit you with large sticks in the middle of the night), taking out an exorbitant rent on a new property and spending the rest of your cash “doing it up” (you and two mates start to paint it, but get distracted by the recently delivered drinks – cue the hasty moving of furniture on the opening night to cover up the missed bits) or, in rare cases, opening up in your garage or front room. This often leads to suspicious authorities coming along and causes unnecessary problems. If in doubt, talk loudly and slowly in English to them while offering the policeman 10€ and a beer. That should do the trick!
Getting the licenses
Well, we’re in Spain. Don’t need that, do you? Besides, some chap in the bar last night said not to worry, you open up then ask for the operating license, because otherwise it takes months before you can open. That’s how the locals do it you know!
Those first few steps
Need publicity? Well, let’s start by having a huge party and buy everybody drinks and food! You have to spend money to make money! And look, first night, and my bar is full to bursting of lots of lovely people who are all telling me what a wonderful bar I have!
Funny how you never see any of them again….
Getting the licenses (part 2)
Now, that is just not on. A couple of rozzers in funny tricorn hats came along last night and demanded to see my license! Not a bloody clue what they were on about, can you believe neither of them spoke English? Just after a bribe, I reckon. Poured them a John Smiths and they just looked at me blankly. Old Fred in the corner, he’d had a couple, but he’s been here 20 years and speaks a bit of the lingo, reckons they just wanted to throw their weight around. Bastards.
Hang on, it’s those berks from last night! And they’ve brought a friend, Mr Policía Local.
And a large padlock and some official looking notices to hang on the door? What, they still haven’t brought someone who speaks English? Bastards. Wouldn’t do this if I were a local!
Getting the licenses (part 3)
Well, thank heavens for that lovely lawyer man down the playa. Even spoke English. Rang up the town hall, chop quick, you get Mr Englishman paperwork. Hello, what’s this, his bill? Bastard. Wouldn’t charge me that much if I were a local. Can I get the key to the padlock now?
You know what we need? Food. Thank god the wife can butter a sandwich. Pickled eggs, lovely. Curries from that supermarket down the road, frozen, you just heat them up and sell em for loadsa dough! Not spending money on catering equipment, just send the wife down to Super Turre to buy a load of knives and boards and stuff. We’re in Spain, right?
Hello, who’s this? An “Inspector de Sanidad”? What’s that, then? What, a health inspector? Already? I only opened two days ago! Bastards, they wouldn’t do this if I were a local. What do you mean, separate and different coloured cutting boards for meat, veg & fish? Who the hell ever got sick eating a bit of raw chicken? What do you mean, different fridges for baked goods and cheeses and raw meat? What do you mean, hair nets and long trousers? It’s too hot to wear a hat in here! Cleaning products? Well, I’ve got some bleach somewhere – what do you mean, proper sanitary cleaning items? I mop it daily! Well, yes, I use the same mop for all floors but… hey, you’re writing a lot on the official looking form… ah well, that lawyer down the playa should be able to deal with it.
Bringing them in
What we need, I said to the missus last night, is a proper big brightly coloured neon board outside saying “ME PUB – SKY TV BINGO QUIZ BANGERS & MASH 4.5€”. That’ll get the punters in. To make it look proper Spanish I’ll stick one of those indally men on it. Bit of John Smiths, fish ‘n’ chips, no need to spend money on menus just write it out longhand on a black board because then they think it’ll be fresh daily! Bar Fred down the road, he does Bingo, so I’m going to do it same time so as to nick his customers. Hope it doesn’t mix with the footie!
Now here’s an idea – let’s offer the food really cheaply. €3.5 for an English breakfast. Yes, I know it costs me more than that to buy it and cook it, but I make it up on the drinks!
Let’s make this place look more like an English place. Beer mats. John Smiths and Tetleys. One of those risqué peanut boards with a naked girl under the packet of peanuts. Hilarious! Keep it smoking of course, everybody smokes in Spain, dunno what the rules are about smoking in bars so I’ll let you do it.
Bringing in the locals
How come we never get Spaniards in here? They just peer in and move on with a shudder. Bastards. Wouldn’t do that if I were a local. Bet they don’t even know what a pickled pigs knuckle is.
Just got a load of plastic tables and chairs off a beer rep! Lovely. I’m going to put them out on the pavement where people have to walk around them. That’ll get their attention!
Hello, it’s Mr Policía Local again. What? Public nuisance? Can’t put them there? Need to get a permit to use the pavement? Never heard of such a thing. What? Got to pay a tax? Bastards. Wouldn’t do that, etc, etc. It’s that swine from Bar Fred who tipped them off, I reckon. Just because I do Bingo same time as him, so we have to split the customers instead of doing it on alternate days.
Hiring of staff
Well, no point getting a flat chested bird I muttered to the wife after she blew up about Betsy the new waitress. Get the punters in, I said. She’ll wear a bikini top if she gets to keep the tips! Classy. Not when tots are about, family place this.
I can do the accounting, no problem there. Right, income versus outgoings. Hmm… slight problem there. How do you pay taxes in this country? Ah, stuff it, not making enough to pay taxes.
Bloody quiet round here. Where’s all the tourists? Pound’s down again, it’s that bloody Gordon Brown messing things up again. Them Spanish don’t help matters by insisting I pay tax and insurance and social security and then fining you because you don’t. Bastards. Wouldn’t do that, etc, etc.
Scenario A) Yep, great little place this. Humming all year round! Why is it closed? Well, it’s me leg you see. Can’t keep it going. Yup, British dream you now! Hard work, lick of paint, place will hum. Yes, cash is fine. Don’t bother bringing it out to Spain, send it to my UK account, no tax to pay that way!
Scenario B) Well, that’s it then. Into the car and off we go. No forwarding address. The debtors can have the furniture I left, that’ll see them right.