The letters Pinotxo Bar -both the sign and the awnings- of the most iconic bar in the Barcelona market of La Boqueria must be covered in the next few hours after the Commercial Court number 9 has ordered the company that has paid for the transfer of the business (Restaurante Egipcio SLU) that it “refrain from using the brand and name” of the establishment. This is a new chapter in the traumatic family war unleashed after the retirement, at the age of 89, of the most famous bartender in Barcelona, Joan Bayén (better known as Juanito), and the sale of the Pinotxo bar.
Bayén retired at the end of last year after 75 years behind a counter. In principle, the business was going to be continued by his nephew Jordi Asín, his wife and their son Didac Asín. All three have been behind the counter for years. In fact, some of them have almost been born behind. At the end of January, a sudden turn separated the Asíns from the family business. Bayén transferred the business to the company Restaurante Egipcio SLU, which also operates the Central Bar within the market. The price paid for the Pinotxo bar has not been revealed, but market sources say that “several million euros” have gone into Bayén’s pocket.
Jordi Asín found himself without a job or the family business overnight and tried to prevent this movement by prosecuting the transfer made by his uncle. According to the nephew’s lawyer, Mario Sol Muntañola, Asín is going to prove that the owner is not just Bayén and they believe “unjustifiable what he has done or what they may have made him do” to the old waiter excluding his nephew from the operation.
More than 80 years ago Catalina, Bayén’s mother, took over a small bar in La Boquería. The business worked and they ended up buying six stops. It was another era and the stops were always in the name of Catalina’s husband until he died. After his death, the stops were inherited by Joan and his sister María from him. Joan never had children but María had two children, Jordi Asín and Albert Asín. “In La Boqueria there was the possibility of unifying stops as long as they belonged to the same owner. Joan and Maria had six stops. To unite them, Maria decided to put them in Joan’s name and in this way they joined stops until turning it into the Pinotxo bar that we know, “says the lawyer.
The concession of the stops has always been in the name of Bayén but in 2001 the waiter and his nephews Jordi and Albert formed a civil society to manage the business. Each of them had a third of the society. Albert passed away and Jordi and Joan stayed, each one of them, 50% of the company.
The relationship between Joan and her nephew had been tense for months and reached its climax on January 25 when Bayén sold the concession for the stops to the Egyptian Restaurant. Jordi Asín has denounced that the brand of the establishment, the menu and the company that manages the business has not been able to sell them since he has 50% of that company and the magistrate has ordered that Egyptian Restaurant, until the facts are proven, not use the name of Pinotxo Bar.
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Jordi Asín and his son Didac plan to continue with the Pinotxo Bar and assume that they will not be able to do so at the stops that Bayen has sold. Even so, the plaintiff’s claim is to litigate because they assure that these stops were, in practice, owned by the company and was in the name of Bayen because at one point in the last century it was necessary for them to only be in one name to unify stops. “The personal damage and image damage due to the loss of the location of the family business in the Mercat de la Boqueria are irreparable and the economic damages inflicted are enormous”, laments Sol Muntañola.
This Tuesday Pinotxo Bar was still open. No one had covered the iconic letters of the stop and -except for the absence of Bayén with his vest and his bow ties- everything was exactly the same as when it was run by uncle and nephew. Even the Espanyol shield that uncle and nephew defended so much was still stuck on the walls of the stop where they eat, among others, the sautéed squid with Santa Pau beans that Bayén has always assured is his favorite dish.
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