Juan Manuel Burón, a Casa Lola partner Ñito Salas
What is the secret of Casa Lola?
Local Business

What is the secret of Casa Lola?

The restaurant group has five premises within 400 metres of one another in Malaga city centre with a sixth opening soon

Juan Soto

Friday, 14 April 2023, 11:08


Casa Lola appears to rule over Malaga city centre. Since opening its first bar in August 2010 on Calle Granada, the restaurant chain has grown in leaps and bounds to the point of now having 240 employees with further openings in the pipeline across Malaga province.

The team behind Casa Lola is formed by Juan Manuel Burón, Daniel Gumpert and Daniel Salazar, three friends from Marbella who began their nightlife entrepreneurial adventures simply "to get free drinks". Initially they opened Los Porrones in Marbella, and then La Botellita, which served spirits in miniature bottles. Its success led to a business franchise, culminating in 70 bars across Spain.

This business venture came to a sticky end, going bust in the 2008 financial crash. However, with hard work and dedication they managed to pull themselves out of that hole and opened Casa Lola barely two years later. Pablo Marín joined the company and together the four have once again demonstrated their entrepreneurial flair.

Juan Manuel Burón considers that much of the success of Casa Lola is thanks to what they learned with La Botellita. Having to travel a lot across the chain at that time, they were immersed in different gastronomic concepts, ambience and decor, experience which in the end has served them well to create their own recipe for success.

When questioned about their secret, Burón admitted that from the outset they aimed to transfer the philosophy of their bar to the restaurant: "Offering a good product at an affordable price."

Casa Lola started life as a traditional Andalusian tavern in appearance, where a customer could find typical Madrid vermouth, Basque-style 'pinchos' (tapas) and a draught beer pulled only as they serve it in the Spanish capital.

They have also been pioneers in keeping the kitchen open and serving hot food all day and boast competitive prices, top-quality products sourced only in Spain and an extensive wine list where all the options can be ordered by the glass.

The original Casa Lola on Calle Granada Ñito Salas

Queues outside

The first Casa Lola opened in August 2010, taking almost a year to get off the ground, although now it is a market leader in the centre of Malaga. "No matter what time you arrive, there is always a queue at the door," said Burón, blushing but with a hint of pride in his voice.

More premises followed: Calle Strachan (August 2018), two more in Plaza Uncibay (2019 and 2021) and then Pez Lola, also in Calle Granada (June 2021). They have also opened in Marbella, where they currently have two premises under the name of Casa Blanca (in Calle Miguel Cano and Puerto Banús).

The expansion doesn't stop. Plans for this spring include a beach bar in the Costa Bella area of Marbella and the sixth Casa Lola for Malaga city centre, in Plaza del Siglo.

But why so many premises in central Malaga? The owners consider it to be core to their business and the place to be, although they had no pre-established plans to set up restaurants throughout the city centre.

"When we outgrew a space, we took on another to expand," said Burón. The truth is that the figures have proved him right: "None of the openings to date have pulled customers away from our other premises."

Although all the eateries are in the same catchment area, the menu and decor vary in each.

"We don't want people getting fed up with the same offering or bored with us," said Burón jokingly. While the classic croquettes and 'patatas bravas' have been around since day one, a more extensive and varied menu is available at the newer premises. Perhaps that is another of Casa Lola's strengths: "We offer a lot of variety so that customers can come for tapas or a full meal." The typical bill is between 15 and 20 euros each.

Another point worth noting is that all the food is homemade. "No processed, ready-made meals here," stressed Burón. As well as cooking in each premises, they have just opened a central kitchen, from where they will prepare the dishes that are common to all their menus. "We want the 'ensaladilla' that is served on Calle Granada to be exactly the same as the one you order in Marbella," he added.

Original decor

Turning to aesthetics, each of the establishments has some detail that makes it unique. Whether it is the traditional interior of the original Casa Lola, or the huge outdoor terrace of the first premises opened in Plaza Uncibay (where Doña Mariquita used to be), or the museum-like interiors of the two most modern ones. In Uncibay 2 (as they call it) there are reproductions of La Malagueta bullring, a full-scale Picasso on the bar and a turn-of-the-century design for the entrance to the Malaga fairground.

Ñito Salas

As for expansion plans, Burón pointed out that they own all their business as they do not want to repeat past mistakes with franchises. "We can't grow too fast as we only deploy our own resources. What we earn, we reinvest." Despite receiving numerous offers from investor companies to grow their business faster, they are keeping their feet on the ground.

"Casa Lola will continue to grow, but there's no rush," he said. Their overall objective: that Casa Lola stays around for a good while.


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