Barcelona eatery owned by Lionel Messi’s brother sparks rumbles of protest

‘An act of aggression’ say residents of upscale L’Eixample neighborhood

Lionel Messi, last January in Zurich.
Lionel Messi, last January in Zurich.Cordon press

Barcelona residents are calling on the Catalan city’s authorities to close down the newly opened restaurant owned by the brother of soccer star Lionel Messi, describing its plans to use an interior courtyard for open air dining that is shared by neighboring buildings as “an act of aggression.”

Bellavista del Jardín Del Norte, located in Enric Granados street in the upscale L’Eixample neighborhood, opened its doors on July 23, and is owned by Messi's brother Rodrigo Messi and property developer Tapioles. But Barcelona’s Residents’ Federation says the restaurant, which seats around 300 people, only has permission for 12 al fresco tables, which its license stipulates must be located on the pavement outside.

The facade of Bellavista del jardin del norte.
The facade of Bellavista del jardin del norte.

“The license they have is only for interior dining. But the business is being promoted as a restaurant with a garden, and that is why we are worried,” says Josep Maria Alcoberro, a spokesman for local residents. He says Messi and his partners intend to apply for a second license to use the courtyard, adding that this would create “huge” noise levels for hundreds of residents.

The spacious interior is divided into a number of smaller spaces that include a florists, a bar, a fountain and a movie theater. The ceiling is decorated with luminous flowers. There is a restaurant, as well as a tapas bar. Open all day, Bellavista Jardín del Norte aims to offer breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The interior of Bellavista del jardín del norte.
The interior of Bellavista del jardín del norte.

The sharp rise in visitor numbers to Barcelona in recent years, with complaints of drunkenness and noise prompting an increasingly militant response from residents and City Hall. Mayor Ada Colau has talked of reaching “breaking point” and that the city risks being taken over by tourists, as other locations along the Catalan coast, such as Salou or Lloret de Mar, have.

English version by Nick Lyne.

Note: An earlier version of this story reported the restaurant as being owned by Leo Messi in partnership with his brother.

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