The end of a sixty-year-old legend in Marbella

The restaurant Santiago has closed after sixty years as one of the most prestigious establishments on the Costa del Sol

JOAQUINA DUEÑAS

For several years now, restaurant owner Santiago Domínguez has been saying he is going to retire but the pull of the kitchen stove has been too strong for him to resist. Until last week that is, when he announced that he would close the iconic restaurant on Marbella's promenade and hang up his chef's toque on 30 September.

His plans for the future, "To spend two months tossing and turning in bed. Do what I have not been able to do my whole life, sleep as much as I wanted," he said. "First I'll have a rest and then I'll think about what I'm going to do," he added.

Originally from Burgos, he arrived in Marbella in 1957, when the town was awakening to the growing tourism, and opened a beach bar right in front of where his restaurant is today. He acquired the restaurant in 1972 and started up soon after.

Hundreds of movie stars, literary figures, politicians and artists have dined at his tables as it became the epicentre of gastronomy in the town with a cuisine based on the products and traditions of classic French cuisine.

With such an illustrious past he finds it impossible to choose a moment that he can say was the best of his career, "there have been many great moments, like when Onassis and Jacqueline Kennedy came, or when Onassis with Maria Callas visited. Or, on other occasions when Sophia Loren, Gina Lollobrigida, Jean-Paul Belmondo or Anthony Queen... There have been many, I would say thousands and I have about 20,000 photographs."

There is one niggling thing, one person he has never been able to feed because he wasn't able, himself. "When I've eaten here I've never been able to eat in one sitting. I've eaten half a plate of something and have had to get up or I've gone in to cook" he explains.

Eating at the Santiago restaurant is like eating at home. "For me, the most important thing is that the customer leaves happy," he admitted.

He has always greeted diners and taken them to their table, paying attention to the smallest detail.

For now, the future of the building is unknown. Although it closed yesterday, and Santiago did not want to go into details, he did say that some of the staff were interested in continuing with the restaurant. For him, that would be ideal, that his employees might maintain the restaurant similar to how it was before. However, we will have to wait a few months to find out.