1677317305 The shops turned bars a journey to the best grocery

The shops turned bars: a journey to the best grocery stores in Seville

The shops turned bars a journey to the best grocery

In Seville, whiskey roast beef is made with brandy, and grocery stores sell beans and serve beer. Such is this city where, decades ago, various grocers decided to offer the public the drinks and charcuterie that their regular customers called foreigners. Over time, this business model became established and today there are shops that maintain this tradition and others that only use the term “abacería” as a claim.

Before the arrival of the big chains, residents only had neighborhood markets and these stores to stock up on supplies, and it was not surprising that the latter served most regulars while they waited. “It has always been consumed casually: by the early 20th century it was being eaten and drunk in these places, usually in back rooms. One of the most historic in the city, Casa Palacios, has photos from the forties where you can see the bar,” says José Ángel Martín, creator of the blog Ultras y rultras, where he talks about this type of business in Seville. . .

“These are uncomfortable places where you can’t sit, but also authentic places where you can taste different wines or cans,” sums up José Ángel. These hybrids of shop and bar, with scales and bar, have one essential thing in common: they sell some of the products that can be found there. Generally cured meats, sausages, cold cuts, cheeses and preserves that make up the classic menu of an informal tapas joint, the varied catalog of a quirky grocery store.

“The less I change, the better”

Located near several fast-food franchises on central Gamazo Street, Casa Moreno still retains the grocer’s identity of yesteryear. Little has changed since it opened around 80 years ago: the counter is still full of sausage and cheese, the walls are full of products and in the background through a side door is the old warehouse that has been converted into a bar with a metal bar on which customers can sit at seven in the morning pushing like a bus.

“It opened as a grocery store in the 1940s, and the back room became a bar in the early 1960s,” explains Emilio Vara, the oldest waiter at Casa Moreno. “Unfortunately, the reason was the inequality women suffered: it used to be frowned upon for them to drink in public, so they sought complicity with the shopkeeper and said to him, ‘Francisco, put some wine and cheese in the shop while I ship,'” says Emilio. “By the time he noticed, he had created a kind of tavern for her.”

In this place they preserve the purity of these shops: no stews or very elaborate dishes, only preserves, cured meats and montaditos that they prepare with the cold cuts sold in the shop. “If you like the liver pudding, the spicy chorizo, the canned mussels or the manzanilla that you drink, you can take them with you. Both aspects are combined here,” confirms Vara. “Today, the third generation of the family runs the house, but we continue to offer 15 types of beans in bulk, for example. It is clear to us that the less this changes, the better,” says this employee.

Restaurant with shop spirit

Antigua Abacería de San Lorenzo opened in 1995 as a retail grocery store. The owner, Ramón López de Tejada, assures that until then nobody had used the word in Seville: “’Ultramarinos’ was more popular, but we chose it because it defined what we were doing and because it was also first in the dictionary was”. Over time, “the clientele demanded more,” so five years later, they began offering food and beverages.

But in 2008, they gave the Fast and Furious the final swerve: The Antigua abacería de San Lorenzo, this small shop in the district of the same name, expanded the premises and became a restaurant. They went from serving local cured meats and wines while serving, to preparing and offering “traditional Andalusian cuisine, especially stews, stews and stews”.

However, this transformation did not make them forget their original purpose: “You can never do without their origins, that’s why we continue to sell scolding, bread or traditional sweets on the street,” says López de Tejada. The aesthetic has also been preserved, and almost three decades after it opened, the place still has the cozy vibe of neighborhood shops. “I think we’ve managed to keep the essence and leave it at the top that many admire,” explains the entrepreneur.

Between Heresy and Punishment

The success of stores like Ramón’s has meant that grocery stores like Dios and Shakira’s Song have become ubiquitous in recent years. For Chencho Cubiles, member of the Academy of Gastronomy of Seville, this fashion has distorted the original idea: “This concept has been opened up and is perhaps used too simply today.” “Here it’s a claim, and a lot of places that have that word disappoint you because they have nothing to do with these old shops,” says the author of the De tapas con Chencho blog.

Ramón López de Tejada explains that “there are very few places of this type that are also dedicated to street vending”, an aspect that he considers essential. And he alludes to the lack of aesthetic coherence in these new openings: “There are some that have the same name and are like any gastrobar: white, gray and black.” All of this, according to the owner of Antigua Abacería de San Lorenzo, “confuses the public a little”.

But not all the food scene is so fateful: places that respect the importance and tradition of these places have also been inaugurated recently. An example of this is Maestro Marcelino, an eatery that opened in 2016 with a decoration inspired by the well-remembered Casa Marciano grocery store, which closed more than 30 years ago, according to Puri Portillo, its owner and manager . “I wanted to praise and highlight the food from our country, so I thought the best thing would be to open a grocery store,” says Puri.

The genre most in demand at Maestro Marcelino is what makes the most sense considering the type of place it is: “Those who enter are looking for the traditional concept of grocery stores: good ham , good cheese and a good montadito de pringá,” says the owner. Some products that of course anyone can buy, from cold cuts to wine, sold in bulk straight from the boots. “In the center of Seville, with the existing rents, it would be very difficult to get by just as a shop or just as a bar. With this model, both businesses complement each other and are above all necessary,” comments Puri Portillo.

At one of the few bar tables in the old warehouse of Casa Moreno, Pablo Díaz, a 26-year-old from Seville, drinks his first bottle in this place he had never been before: “At first I thought it was a cured meat, fortunately my friend told me to go to the end,” he admits. As a resident of the Andalusian capital, he is thankful that such traditional places still exist: “The city is becoming a tourist resort, but luckily there are still bars like this one, with the charm of hidden, ever-shrinking Seville.”