Let’s start with the popular wisdom: there are eight doors instead of seven in this building promoted by the millionaire Josep Xifré i Cases in the Isabel II avenue. We are in Barcelona, circa 1830, nearby the harbor when this successful businessman decides to locate in the city his home and his company. Mister Xifré had made his fortune in Cuba, increasing it in New York. He was an “indiano” and his taste and vision of the world are reflected in the design of the once the most modern house in Barcelona. To make it more cosmopolitan, he decided to open the Cafè de les 7 Portes (seven doors). Ok, seven, but just because the eighth was for the employees.
The arquitects Josep Buixareu and Francesc Vila were chosen by M. Xifŕe to build the house. It was made at the top of a big portico made with ionic columns and many terracotta reliefs about the fortune of the owner, well known sailors and mythological figures. The location, next to the old stock market, the Mail building and the Fish Market, has been always been connected with the prosperity in Barcelona. Besides this famous Café, its store were the home of many shops.
The journalist Josep Maria Carandell, fascinated by the history of the building, states that the portico was built following masonic ideas and the pointed at several mathematic and scientific symbols sculpted in the board.
Let’s focus on the restaurant’s history. The first owner was Mister Josep Cuyas, who left the business to one of his servers, Joan Biscamps, who left it to Bertomeu Grau. At the beginning of the XX century, the place became very popular thanks to the board games and other social activities like billiard. It was even a singing Café. Today, we can still read ANTIGUO CAFÈ Y BILLARES (Old Café and billiards).
The store was extended buying and for the International exhibition of 1929, the Morera assumed the direction to make it a gastronomic spot in the city. Many politicians, journalist, writers and artists were loyal customers until the couple retired.
To ensure its survival, the category of this restaurant needed to be supported by another historical family. Some say a group of traders convinced the owner of the old Fonda Europa, Paco Parellada, to take care of the 7 Portes. He did so in 1942, helped by his daughter Carme Parellada and his son-in-law Joan Solé. From that moment, the fame and prestige of this spot has increased day by day. Nowadays, the owner Francesc Solé Parellada, celebrates the 175th anniversary of the 7 Portes which still is a referent in Barcelona. This singular restaurant is filled by tourist everyday but it still keeps its local atmosphere and preserves the Catalan traditions: Eastern, Saint George day, the Mercè, Saint John…Some employees have been there for over 40 years and its piano, its rooms, the famous signatures in the walls, its paintings…talk about the history of the city. For the one writing this lines, is the place were her parents celebrated their first wedding anniversary. Cheers!