The secrets of Madrid’s old tavern.

When asked if he is in charge, Amadeo Lazaro, 90, smiles and says he is just a boy serving guests here. He is considered a tabernero (a man who works in a tavern) from the age of eleven, when he started to meet guests at the door of his house, telling them about the delicious dishes that are served for lunch. For almost half a century he has been creating a special atmosphere in his Casa Amadeo tavern. It used to be a can shop and then a hairdresser s. Amadeo Lazaro bought two rooms in 1972 to establish his own tavern. He still lives next door to the establishment in an old house without an elevator on Plaza de Santa Ana with his beloved wife. “This is the place where we raised all our children and no vulture can get us out of here,” he says.

What did you learn from years of working in the tavern?

I m still learning! I learned what virtue and hospitality are. To be close to every guest, to be open with everyone and to have patience – that s what I ve been learning and learning.

Do you come here every day or only on Sundays?

I do what I want to do. I feel like a child who knows the world and wants to share emotions with others every day. That is why I am here almost always.

Do your children also work with you?

I have seven children, and there are three working in the tavern. I offered it to them, and they were happy to do so, although they knew that it was a difficult job that required patience, dedication and love.

What is the secret to maintaining a high level of popularity of this institution for so many years?

I ve been a tabernero since I was a kid, that s the secret. My experience influences the level of service and hospitality in general. My love of business guarantees unexpected compensation in the form of gratitude from guests.

What is the most popular dish in your institution?

Snails in spicy sauce with chili, paprika and chorizo. They are made with soul, so they have excellent taste and are so loved by our guests.

Who taught you how to cook them?

My mother. I am from the province of Burgos, and snails are very much appreciated there. I used to help my mother cook, so I learned to cook. For many years now, my mother s branded snails have been in great demand.

How many snails are served on the most populous day of the week?

On Sundays, we cook about 40-50 kilograms of snails. This takes five hours of continuous work. On other days, we cook about 15-20 kilograms of snails.

Do you cook too?

I do public relations, I am no longer allowed in the kitchen. I like being with guests. I meet everybody and create an atmosphere of openness and intimacy.

Have large chains never wanted to buy this place profitably?

This has always been a temptation, but for me and my children it s a favorite thing to do, and I want to continue in my own traditional spirit.

Do famous people come here to meet you?

Yes, sometimes people come here who are curious to meet me because there are no more taberneros in the city with this experience. I am a museum piece.

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