Friday, September 22

Madrid taxi drivers against the main hotel group in Ponzano for a huge debt: “Lalala, pay now”

“Welcome to La Mamona de Chamberí, the most beautiful and fun restaurant on Calle Ponzano that doesn’t close all summer”. With this optimistic phrase he sold the Lalala Group a few days ago on his Instagram account, which has become his flagship store. It was accompanied by some colorful photos of its interior, which showed elegant upholstery on wooden seats and vegetable decorations. Contrasted with these idyllic images, the exterior of the establishment presents a very different reality: two black and white posters placed above the entrances to the restaurant disfigure the business group’s debts. “Lalala pays now: how easy it is to open businesses with other people’s money,” they pray.

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The posters have been placed by taxi drivers. Specifically, those grouped in the Madrid Auto-Taxi Guild, the association that owns the building on which it sits and until 2019 also owned the two premises that the Lalala Group then bought from them. But that he did not finish paying them, the drivers denounce in conversation with Somos Chamberí. So they have decided to make their problem visible in order to put pressure on hoteliers in debt, with banners and street protests.

In the month of July, they convened two, with traffic cuts on Ponzano Street included. “La Ladrona, the next joint of the Lalala group” they shouted ironically in the last one, which took place on the 21st at the gates of La Mamona. About twenty taxi drivers attended her, most of them unaccustomed to this type of protest and in a certain hurry when it came to shouting slogans. But the noise they made scared some customers, surprised to run into demonstrations in one of the wealthiest areas of Madrid, Ayuso’s fiefdom in the last elections.

Despite giving publicity to their protest, at the moment the taxi drivers do not want to detail to this newspaper the exact figure they are demanding from Lalala, although they place it between 500,000 and 750,000 euros. A hole in their accounts that, they say, endangers the survival of the association, because they still have to pay more than 12,000 euros of a mortgage monthly.

A pre-pandemic sale

The current board of directors of the Guild blames its predecessors in office for the sale, who put the aforementioned premises on the market, with a floor area of ​​about 300 square meters, located at numbers 84 and 86 on Santa Engracia street. and with access also from Ponzano. Its location is enviable: at the beginning of the street with the most bars in Madrid and with the possibility of setting up a terrace on the wide sidewalks of the adjoining street.

The operation was closed in 2019, after the cartel of for Sale It will be placed in the fall of 2018. At that time the board of directors -different from the current one- justified the operation due to the need to balance accounts, “weighed down by the management of the previous board”, they said then.

Shortly after, La Mamona opened, “the liveliest restaurant in Chamberí” in the words of Lalala. And also a nightclub on the basement floor, The one that was missing, with an opening license until 6:00 in the morning. Both have become successful venues, frequented by contestants from television programs such as The island of temptations. Victoria Federica, a friend of Luis Torremocha, one of the managers of the business together with the young businessman Miguel Nicolás, also attends there as a client.

Both establishments are two of the 22 premises that Lalala currently owns in Madrid, a group that after the pandemic continues to bet on openings in the capital, with an offer of breweries, restaurants and nightclubs or nightclubs with which they are earning a gap between the greats of the hospitality industry in Madrid and the primacy in Ponzano street, where its business model was born, focused at first on low-priced drinks and a disco atmosphere. Among these places is its brand La Bientirada, with nine establishments. Its activity focuses on districts with high incomes in the capital such as Chamberí, Salamanca or Chamartín.

Lalala’s way of doing things was told in this article from a couple of years ago, in which the Ponzano Merchants’ Association distanced itself from the practices of these businessmen, who brought to the street the model of drinks and disco, decorated with Instagram aesthetics and not too extensive menus but with trendy dishes. The racket and noise associated with its premises have caused the ponzaningwith constant complaints from the neighbors, who even before the pandemic denounced a “complete degradation”.

Contacted by Somos Chamberí, the Lalala group has finally preferred not to make a statement for this article, despite initially being open to answering questions about this case.

The taxi drivers declare themselves “concerned” about the real intentions of the hoteliers, who keep their cards hidden and also the reasons why they do not pay the debts claimed by the taxi drivers. In the Guild they even fear that the strategy is to suffocate them financially so that they end up selling the entire building in which they have their headquarters, a juicy six-storey real estate candy in the middle of Chamberí. “But that will never happen,” they warn.