In this interview on The Logros Show – in association with The Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce – Lee Dinsdale talks to Juanito – owner of the famous Las Dalias – famous for it’s markets, sounds, restaurants and entertainment.
Interivew with Juanito, Owner of Las Dalias – The Real Sound of the City.
Lee: Good afternoon this is Unity Radio The Real Sound Of The City. Thank you very much to Linda and Suzy who are from Sweden and South Africa and they have been in Ibiza for a long period of time with stalls here in Ibiza. Now we are going to speak to Juanito who is the owner of Las Dalias. His family founded the business fifty years ago. Tell us, for those who have maybe not been to Ibiza and Las Dalias before, what is it today? We will get into the history in a moment?
The Story of Las Dalias – A Family-run Bar in Ibiza
Juanito: Las Dalias was born in 1954 so it’s like sixty five years ago. It was started as a bar just across the road with local people, because there were no tourists at that time, so for local people who wanted to have some fun. Right now it’s the same but sixty five years after there are tourists and people having fun, concerts, light music, markets, everything. It is the dream of my dad but a lot bigger right now.
Lee: So it was your father that founded Las Dalias and what was the chain of events? How did it come about?
Juanito: Las Dalias was a bar on the road to Ibiza. It was a place where farm people, all people from Ibiza would come that wanted to dance. The church was very important. There was always a kind of competition between the church and the dancing. Now it’s the same but its 2020 and we are allowed to do everything this year but, because of the covid it’s quite different. We have to change a lot of things bet even like that Las Dalias goes on. We have events, seating people because we cannot have big concerts but the whole markets have been running until next week with the last night market. The Saturday markets will go on all year round.
Lee: Okay so if you are coming to Las Dalias for the first time can you break down the different activities for us. There are restaurants, a hippy market. Can you tell us what’s on and when?
Juanito: The most important thing for Las Dalias right now is the market. We mustn’t forget that live music has been very important, even more than the market because since the day we opened in 1954 live music has always been there. Gastronomy is also very important for us. We have ten, eleven bars and restaurants for you when you hang around the markets. Also the holy events with Namasté of course of more than twenty years, making a party in the gardens. You have all these promoters who find a corner here in Las Dalias in the countryside that is not so crowded and trying to make a party for a couple of hundred people.
Getting The Big Acts
Lee: I guess you have had some quite interesting people coming through Las Dalias over time. Who have you had who have played in here and been around the area?
Juanito: It’s a lot people you know. I was born in 1961 and when I was hanging around here at nine or ten years I remember when Bob Marley played in Ibiza. That was in 1978 I think and he had a house close to Las Dalias and he used to come around here. I was a kid so I didn’t even know who he was. Then around the eighties at the Mediterranean Studios in Saint Llorenc all events came to record in this amazing studio. They had a kind of a law to come to Las Dalias when the market had finished. Many times it was bands from Spain and also people like Queen, Roger Taylor, the drummer and Brian May the guitar player used to come to all these concerts and talk to all these young musicians. They couldn’t believe it they would say, wow it’s Brian May and he’s telling me how to play! Mick Jagger, Ronnie Wood used to come here because they had very good friends here. The daughter of Mick was living close to Las Dalias like two kilometres from here. So they would come and play here and if you don’t know about rock you don’t even know who you are playing with! I met Nina Hagen here. It’s a lot of things I can remember but I don’t have pictures. It was a place where all these famous people and musicians just came here because they could hang around with a normal person. I also met bob Geldof. There are a lot people that I can hardly remember right now.
Lee: I guess there is a lot of people who come here year in year out to Las Dalias. How many people do you estimate come through the markets every year?
Juanito: In Saturday’s market we have around two hundred and fifty stands, around that. It comes in between ten thousand people, twelve thousand, fifty thousand people, even more it it’s one of those days that is cloudy, close to rain. People go to the beach and then come into Las Dalias. It’s a place where people like to come and enjoy. They like to see all these colours, these smells and there are smiles from all the people because they are happy people. These stand holders are really doing what they really love and that makes people happy and that’s why they look so happy. They show people how happy they are.
The Customer Experience
Lee: Yes, it’s very noticeable talking to Linda and Suzy how happy they were even though times are difficult with covid, it’s a bit of a struggle, but they are happy being in this creative environment. In terms of the customer experience, or someone coming to Las Dalias for the first time, what kind of experience do you want to give them?
Juanito: We must give something they really don’t forget and do not expect. We must try to make them feel really special. They come in and see all these different colours, the stands, the smells, the music and the faces. Don’t forget we have people here from more than maybe thirty five countries and it’s a big mixture of people and language. All this together makes it different and people want to see everything and can stay hours and hours there. It’s something that people don’t forget and they talk to other people and explain that is something they have to do because it’s something different.
Lee: When your father was setting up the market, I read on the internet that you were doing some all – inclusive drink what you like offer. I think that you almost pioneered the all- inclusive market many years ago, would that be right?
Juanito: Well it’s true that when my dad started in 1954, ten years after that the tourists started coming, not the same people as now. It was people that dressed up and the ladies had long hair and they came in buses. They had a kind of food show here in the garden. They had music; they had flamenco show, music to dance to. There was a set menu, I think it was about one hundred and fifty pesetas less than one euro and we called that BBQ. It was such a good idea that somebody clever did it and made it better and we were very disappointed. My dad went into a crisis. I think it was the first crisis that we got through. We got through four or five crisis in sixty five years but that was the first one. We kept on and really pushed the restaurant and in 1985 we had the idea about a hippy market and when I explained to the family , they were like, what you going to do – are you crazy! I said I don’t know but I think it could work. In the beginning it was not so easy but now you can see that it was right and part of the success of Las Dalias is the hippy markets and we are really giving a rich thing to the whole countryside and the north of the Island.
Lee: In your view what do you think makes a successful market? People go to markets all around the world. This is very successful, what is the magical formula for a successful market?
Juanito: That’s a good question because it’s true even in Ibiza there is a lot of markets but you are right Las Dalias is successful. I think most importantly it’s the quality of things that are being sold in the market. Of course you must have many different stands and all different prices, not only prices of four hundred euros or three hundred euros. You must have from five euros to whatever you can pay. You must have as many offers as you can and that is better for the people. So you must have things for ladies, kids, men, but I think the quality of what you buy must be different from any other stands that you have here. You can see the same thing ten times but the most difficult thing when me make the selection of the stands is to make sure the quality and what they offer is different to any other stands here. Of course there is also the ambience because you can buy in a commercial centre but when you buy in the market you have the ambience, the music, all the people with nice smiles and they will say hello to you. This makes a very nice ambience for buying and talking to the people. They will talk about their experiences maybe it was in India or all around the world and all this mixing make a very nice ambience. If you don’t want to buy you are still welcome to hang around and enjoy it here just the same as if you were buying.
Lee: Okay so you mention the quality of products and you have an application process that you have to submit. How many applications do you get every year compared to how many stalls that you have? How do you decide who to choose as a market?
Juanito: That’s the most difficult thing. There are people who have stands and then change their lives and decide not to live in Ibiza and move somewhere else and people move around. That’s when somebody else comes into the market. You have the night markets and the Saturday day markets. It’s very difficult because we have a lot of applicants. Maybe we can have one hundred and fifty applicants every year and maybe in one year we can get ten people, seven, and eight you never know. In the last years we have had to put a control on the products that people sell. We are thinking that in the next two years if covid lets us go on in the way that we were planning in 2019 it maybe between twenty and thirty people and new stands that we will get into Las Dalias.
Lee: Okay so it’s quite a difficult task to get in with one hundred and fifty applications and only ten becoming available. What is it like running a business here? What are some of the challenges that you face running this size of operation basically?
Juanito: The most important thing I think is to have a very good team, for me it’s a magic team. If you have a good team and also very importantly you are part of the team, I think it’s a kind of a guarantee to be successful. You really have got to believe in yourself and what you do and not give up because of course many times things are not the way you are thinking they are going to be and you have problems with prices and things like that. In the sixty five years in the history of Las Dalias we went through many crises and here we are alive and kicking! I think the team that you have working with, the bars and the restaurants , in the kitchen, security , cleaning places, managers for the stand holders, even the stand holders are like a big family and once you get that and people understand you are like a family, things are easier.
Lee: What are the bigger plans for Las Dalias in the future provided we overcome the current crisis and the way things are? What are you looking to do to expand?
Juanito: The first thing is keep on running and doing well and try to keep at the level and quality that we have. For us that’s a big thing. In 2014, 2016 we went to the market in Amsterdam and it was very nice and very successful. In 2010, 2011 we went also to Madrid and there were forty thousand people with all kind of events from Las Dalias and one hundred and fifty stands. We did it four times and it’s a lot of work and if we return to normal from covid we will try to go maybe to Berlin, even some places in England and back to Madrid and try to travel and show people how Las Dalias in Ibiza could be somewhere else, maybe in Manchester.
Lee: It must be quite challenging running a sizeable operation like Las Dalias, Juanito. In your view what do you think are the key attributes to be an entrepreneur and business owner to achieve the success that you want to achieve?
Juanitio: The first thing is you have really got to believe in yourself because it’s very important that you are clear about what you want and where you want to go. Also you have got to be patient because it’s not easy. Sometimes you must really understand you are going to work for nothing or maybe less than nothing and if you keep on and on in the end I’m sure you will be successful and you are going to be an important part of this Island.
Lee: Thank you very much. So one of the key things there was understanding about working for nothing and the hard work that you need to put in. The series is Making Ibiza and you are actually from Ibiza, you are Ibicenco so you may have a different view compared to the people who come to the Island. In your view, what do you believe makes Ibiza. why do people keep coming back, what is the magic of Ibiza, what makes it for you?
Juanito: I think it’s the same as when the first people came, very famous people like Onassis who came to Ibiza with the big yachts or people living in Ibiza and they came in 60’s. Maybe they were on their way to Majorca and they stopped in Ibiza because the boat had to pass by and they saw the Island and they said, wow, I’ll stay here, I’m not going to Majorca, with all respect to Majorca. Ibiza right now fifty, sixty years after is still an Island that has all these reasons and is why people look at Ibiza with so much love. Of course there are a lot of tourists , it’s now 2020 but the countryside of Ibiza, the beaches, and the people make Ibiza different and I think we Ibicenco’s and all people who love Ibiza and respect Ibiza, and those who are working here really have to take care of the Island . I think in the last years, ten, fifteen, twenty years Ibiza has been on the top of its capacity and we really have to look after Ibiza.
Lee: Thank you very much Juanito for talking to us.
Juanito: Thank you very much and to all people in Manchester.
Article Transcription by Terry Capostagno
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