Santa Catalina, popular because of its restaurants but also with its problems. | Archive

Santa Catalina in Palma has had a good and a bad summer; good because the restaurants have enjoyed a positive season business-wise, but bad because of the negative publicity that the district has attracted. It is the latter, and what the local restaurants association describes as a "campaign of harassment" orchestrated by residents and the town hall, which has led around a dozen bars and restaurants to offer themselves for 'traspaso'.

Tomeu Mas is the spokesperson for the restaurants. He is critical of the "supervision" of restaurants and clubs in Santa Catalina over the summer - there have been regular inspections and controls. "There's no doubt that they're after us, and with all possible weapons. We can't work like this. We end up paying for the sinners." He regrets the fact that there is no dialogue between residents and businesses. "They don't realise the bad image they are giving their neighbourhood on social media and in the press. It will end up taking its toll on them as well."

Palma town hall explains that it received 408 complaints about Santa Catalina over three months in the summer. Of these, 187 had to do with establishments (such as restaurants) and apparent breaches of regulations.

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Marilén Mayol, spokesperson for the Santa Catalina residents association denies that there has been harassment. "We are not talking about harassment. There are the facts and figures of the proceedings. It's crystal clear. Everyone, restaurants and residents, had been requesting police foot patrols at night for some time. Why are they now complaining?"

Mas says that increases in rent have also aggravated the situation facing the restaurateurs. There has been an average increase of ten to fifteen per cent in recent years. "It's now impossible to find 105 square metre premises for under 2,000 euros per month. Moreover, there are no new licences for bars and restaurants. Actually owning an establishment in this neighbourhood is a gold mine. When you add on the controls and the negative publicity campaign by the residents, it doesn't pay to have a restaurant in Santa Catalina."

He doesn't find it surprising that more and more foreign businesspeople are taking over establishments in the area. "It's a very attractive district, however much the residents association denies this. In the end, there will be hardly any Mallorcan restaurateurs left."