La Antigua beach bar-restaurant on El Saladillo beach in Costalita was knocked down by the authorities on Thursday, after a court decided that it had no licence and stood on public land which was classified as a green zone.
The legal action was begun by Estepona council in 2013, but the French owners, who began renting the site 11 years ago and bought it two years ago, applied for the demolition to be postponed until the end of the tourist season, as they employ up to 50 members of staff during the summer. They also said they would demolish the building themselves in September. However, the request was denied on the grounds that they might continue the business indefinitely, and Estepona council said this had been the case for several years.
The 25 current members of staff watched on as the chiringuito was bulldozed on Thursday morning. Many had been working there for ten years under French owner Jean Marc, who said he “can’t understand the Spanish laws” and didn’t know that his bar was on a green zone.
The employees showed their indignation and incomprehension at how their livelihood was being crushed by the machinery. Daniel Romero, the chiringuito’s manager, said. “They’re taking our lives away, not our jobs, because there are more jobs, but none like this one.”
The employees’ complaints were aimed mainly at the mayor of Estepona, José María García Urbano. “Muchas gracias, señor alcalde,” (thank you, Mr Mayor) were the words chalked on a blackboard pinned to one of the columns that were still standing.