Four generations have run and owned the El Bungalow restaurant in Ciudad Jardin, which is now facing demolition like many other emblematic establishments on the coast in Mallorca. | Majorca Daily Bulletin reporter

There is a war raging on the beaches of Mallorca and the owners of the famous El Bungalow restaurant in Palma’s Ciudad Jardin are determined to fight the authorities on the beach where the emblematic establishment is located but has been served with a demolition order which, as things stand, has to be complied with by March next year.

Maleni Bonet, part of the fourth generation which owns and runs the restaurant, is determined to fight to the very end to save the restaurant.
El Bungalow is another long-established restaurant that is threatened by a Costas Authority order.
Famous for its paella and popular with both residents and tourists, El Bungalow has been operating with a restaurant licence since 1983.

A family business, Maleni explained that her great-grandfather originally bought what was a bungalow in 1943.
It was a wedding present for her grandmother, and it was her mother, María Pinya, who obtained the licence 39 years ago - but now Madrid has issued a series of demolition orders for a number of beach restaurants and bars in Mallorca.

“We’ve appealed against the order and there are other judicial avenues we can take if that fails,” Melani told the Bulletin.
“We know that Madrid is going to hand responsibility for coastal management over to the Balearic government and we hope that will help to serve are cause, but in the meantime, it seems to be that Madrid has no real understanding of what Mallorca is about, what it stands for and that establishments like ours are very much part of Mediterranean life and culture. It’s as if they simply want to hoover up the coastline with no solid argument, and that will cause a great deal of damage to the social and cultural fabric of Mallorca.

“I’ve been to places like Corfu and they love nothing more than being able to eat or drink at small old, traditional restaurants on the beach and by the sea. It’s part of our tradition, the essence, it’s one of the big attractions of the Mediterranean.

“And to be honest, we have not been given any solid reasons as to why we have to knock the restaurant down next year. Just what damage are we doing to the environment, for example?

“Not only has the restaurant been here catering for clients from all walks of life, be they locals or tourists, we’ve always had an open-door policy. We’re open all year round and all of my family have lived in the neighbourhood. It’s so much more than a business, we’re part of the community. We have 20 families who depend on us for work and many have been with us for years. We have a wonderful relationship with the local residents; the neighbourhood association was the first to leap to our aid and defend us. Local families have been coming to us for decades. Just round the corner we have a care home and on Sundays families bring their parents from the home for lunch or a drink by the sea. Families love it because the children can play safely on the beach in front of the restaurant while the parents enjoy their meal, and we’ve never exploited our position like many of the new massive beach clubs which have been given permission to open, such as those in Illetas.

“Traditionally, the people who lived in Palma would catch the bus to either Illetas or Ciudad Jardin, but they’ve managed to destroy the heart and soul of Illetas with these vast and very expensive beach clubs, which are aimed at the super rich and the wealthy foreign market. Unlike us, they are exclusive places for a minority who can afford it.

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“We’ve always offered value for money, great quality in a pristine location which doesn’t affect anybody. The fact that we are lower down than the pavement means that we’re not blocking anybody’s views. We don’t make any noise or mess, we’ve operated and existed in harmony with the local community and the environment for 40 years, so why pick on us and a few others around the island?

Why is there one rule for some and another for others? New places can open while the traditional establishments are being forced to close, it makes no sense. And once the old, historic establishments are gone, there will be no turning back. What I would really like to know is what we’ve done wrong, why have we been singled out - along with many of the others dotted around the coast.

“Moreover, it’s not as if we’re built on the beach, the restaurant is built on rock. So, what would knocking us down gain, a concrete slab? None of it makes any sense to us or to the hundreds of people who have joined the campaign to save the restaurant. The support from the local community, the media and many of our regular clients has been overwhelming and it’s further proof of just how much we are valued, and I am sure that the same can be said for the other coastal establishments which have also been served with similar demolition orders.

“I know we have elections coming up next year and things may change. The proposal by the centre-right Partido Popular to declare the restaurant a historic and therefore protected building has been welcomed. It’s given us a boost, but we don’t want to become a political pawn.

“What we hope is that, considering the Balearics are going to be handed powers to manage the coast, there is political and social census across the board, on all sides and that this doesn’t become a political issue.

What we want is for common sense and clear heads to prevail,” Maleni said.
“It’s quite obvious that in Madrid no one appears to understand what the Balearics are about, the Mediterranean culture of Mallorca and the other islands. It’s part of the attraction of the island - being able to sit at a restaurant by the sea and the beach, go for a swim before or after lunch.
“We’ve even got tables set aside for people who wish to come with their pets because Ciudad Jardin is such a beautiful place for a walk.

The restaurant has become part of so many peoples’ lives, so many memories, and we have an endless list of repeat customers who have become part of the family, be they locals or foreigners.
“We’ve striven for so many years to provide the best experience possible and all the people who have turned out over the past few months to support us appreciate that. They don’t want to lose us, and neither do we want to lose them.

“Yes, in theory we have until March next year to demolish the restaurant but it’s not going to happen.
“We’re determined to have the order overturned and we have numerous other avenues to follow.
After everything we and all the other businesses have been through during the pandemic, to emerge from it all and be slapped with the demolition order was extremely hard, very unfair. Just when we were all trying to get back on our feet, we get this; I don’t understand what people are thinking. If the authorities want quality tourism and people to properly enjoy Mallorcan culture, gastronomy and the Mediterranean life, why do they want to rip the heart out of it by closing places like us down? What have we done wrong?

“It is my great-grandmother’s house and we have always wanted to regularise the situation. It was a house that much later obtained a restaurant licence, but they are merciless with family businesses that are on the coast. The Costas are applying extensive power. What do they want?”

A petition against the demolition has meanwhile so far gathered over 14,000 signatures and that figure is continuing to rise.