It has to be said that the LGBT scene in this city has been hard hit in recent times – last summer the Raval bar Bata de Boatiné closed after more than 20 years in business; in the winter the social club of the Col·lectiu Gai de Barcelona followed suit; and a few months back, the bar La Penúltima shut up shop. The sensation of homelessness, desolation and abandonment for the local gay community was starting to be all-encroaching when, on July 16, the Alberts decided to throw their hat into the ring.
Who are the Alberts? Albert Villaplana is a graphic designer and Albert Macaya comes from the world of safaris (I’m not making that up!). They were already friends with the owners of Poble-sec bar La Federica when they heard that it was available to be taken over, and they didn’t think twice before deciding such a great place couldn’t be run by anybody else but them. And the truth is that the collection of vintage furniture from the ’60s that the Alberts inherited (the majority of which are coveted signature pieces) coordinates perfectly with the loud, shameless and joyful shirts they wear to work.
Disciples of Rafel
In the neighbourhood of Poble-sec, the street called Blai is all the rage – although it’s starting to become hoist by its own petard, getting so full that it can be difficult to walk along – but the Alberts aren’t looking to compete with it.
Instead they offer something completely different: a bar with glamour and glam decadence where you can also eat well. Every fortnight they host Saturday night theme parties, where they have lots of fun decorating the bar and themselves, while gay DJs play the best from their collections. The food on offer is selected with love and discernment: you can enjoy baiona (a cured meat) from Can Gori in the Garrotxa region of Catalonia, or must-try cheeses brought direct from the Pyrenees.
The intention, they say, is to serve items that clients won’t necessarily have at home – outstanding, exclusive products at reasonable prices.
The potato omelette is extraordinary and it’s made by the same chef who cooks for the Bodega d’en Rafel. The Alberts are also big fans of the eponymous Rafel, and he’s acting as the spiritual guide on their new venture into the world of restaurants. Could there be a better mentor?
For draught beer, they’ve gone for the excellent Mahou, and there are wine and gin-and-tonic menus. One Galician gin, Nordés, which is very fragrant, ‘very gay’, makes them giggle.
They open in the evening, from 7pm, and even though they’ve only been going for a short while, the Alberts’ La Federica is already the queer meeting place in Paral·lel. The two men are delightful, and we really needed them. Alberts, you are most welcome.