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Thinking outside the box in Algorfa: Chandelier the Showbar beats Friday 13 Blues to deliver the goods!

Chandelier the Showbar, owned and run by Matt Neale and Gareth Pittaway, was all set to host its grand re-opening party after extension and refurbishment on Saturday 14 March, 2020.  Friday 13 isn’t even supposed to be an unlucky day in Spain.  However, on this particular Friday 13, all bars and restaurants in the Valencian community were ordered to close their doors at midnight, for at least 15 days.

 

This is clearly devastating news for every bar and restaurant owner in Spain, along with their staff and customers. The only establishments allowed to trade during the lock-down are takeaways, and even they must become take-it-aways, because customers can’t collect food. Orders must be delivered by just one person, who has to stay outdoors at the delivery address, to avoid the risk of transmitting the virus.

 

Algorfa is a small town, just 10 miles inland from Torrevieja. Many people have never heard of it, yet once you’ve been there, you fall under its spell, because this is a little pueblo with a great big heart. And nowhere is this more evident than in the way local residents and business owners are now finding ways to help their neighbours, without contravening government directives.

 

Chandelier the showbar
The Big Burger in a Box – one of the meals Matt and Gareth will be delivering to households in Algorfa locked down by Covid-19 restrictions

 

The great thing about Algorfa is that although it only has a population of around 5,000 permanent residents, everyone looks out for their neighbours in tough times. It’s just six months since the devastation of the gota fria, and many Algorfeños are still trying to get back to normal. They prevailed by working together then, and they’ll get through this in the same way.

 

Chandelier has been closed for the last two months to carry out a €20,000 refurbishment, and the guys were keen to show off its fabulous new look. The bar has more indoor seating, a decent sized dance area, and a state of the art kitchen. Shaking off their understandable disappointment at the postponement of the opening, Matt and Gareth met with Algorfa’s Mayor, Manuel Ros Rodes. For Algorfa’s residents and business owners, Manuel is helpful and approachable, and always at the heart of village life.

 

Matt and Gareth are always among the first to offer support when it’s needed, but they couldn’t see how this could be accomplished without going against the rules. However, after discussions with Manuel, and checks with the Policia Local, they were given permission to deliver food cooked in their new kitchen, as long as they adhered to the guidelines and didn’t allow collection.

 

Chandelier the showbar
Manuel Ros Rodes. Algorfa Mayor, who is working with local business owners and residents to lessen the impact of the lock-down.

 

They recommend that others in similar situations who want to help speak to the local Mayor, because as long as a safe way can be found to do things for the good of the communities around Spain, the Mayor is the person to go to. Other local government departments may not have the knowledge or the power to advise or sanction ‘outside the box’ thinking, But if the Mayor can make life easier for the community, he will. Matt and Gareth are full of praise for the way the Ayuntamientio is dealing with the situation:

Manuel and the Policia Local are so helpful, and are trying to find ways to help the community and still keep everyone safe. It’s their town too, and they want to keep life as near to normal as possible during this critical time.

 

Most of their regular customers in the Algorfa area were delighted by this, and there were many positive comments on Chandelier’s Facebook page. However, some locals were not enthused, and there have been comments about ‘profiteering,’ ‘using the crisis to make money,’ and much worse. At a time when people all over Spain are pulling together to help each other in difficult circumstances, it seems some people still feel the need to be negative.

 

Why should this be? Matt and Gareth have a pretty good idea. They are not just joint owners of Chandelier, they are a couple, and it seems that, even in 2020, this can be an issue for some.  The guys have also made a real success of their business, despite prophecies of doom and gloom from a small minority, because La Finca ‘Wasn’t ready for people like them.’

 

The secret of their success is that Chandelier isn’t just a bar it’s a real hub of the community. Local choir, the Enthusiasticals – think Military Wives with suntans – hold their rehearsals there, and also sing at various events around Algorfa and beyond. The choir, led by La Finca resident Linda Cunningham, make regular large donations to local charities. All the singers give their time for free, and although the choir has only been going for as long as Chandelier has been open, they are very much sought after at local events and fiestas.

 

Chandelier the showbar
The newly refurbished indoor seating are of Chandelier, the Showbar, La Finca Commercial Centre, Algorfa

There are also regular special interest evenings and afternoons, such as Psychic Nights and a Scrabble Club, and now there is more space available, Matt and Gareth intend to focus even more on the needs of the community. They are open to ideas from locals as to what they’d like to see at Chandlier, and hire of the facility is free of charge to local non-profit  groups.

 

When the bars can open again, everyone will be invited to a big party, combining the opening with Gareth’s 40th birthday bash. It’s on 21 March, so that’s something else on hold. What really concerns the guys, though, is that the fundraising for a defibrillator for La Finca Commercial Centre – another example of thinking outside box from the Chandelier’s owners, has lost momentum because of the lock-down.

 

Amid all the hype and drama surrounding Covid-19, it’s great to see Algorfa and other small communities working together, and finding ways to make the best of a bad situation. It’s just sad that there are people, even in a situation like this, that can’t accept that others are always looking to turn a profit. In Algorfa, it’s never about the money – it’s all about the community.

 

Chandelier The Showbar

First Floor La Finca Commercial,

Avenida Antonio Pedrera Soler,

Algorfa 03169

Alicante

Telephone: 865 755 181

 

Spain Life Exclusive will be bringing you more positive stories from around Spain as we all pull together to get through the next weeks and months. Stay safe and well everyone. This too shall pass!

 

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