Spanish version

Café Comercial

Logo Cafe ComercialThe Cafe Comercial is located at Glorieta de Bilbao 7. We do not know who the first owner was, although it is believed that it was a priest. Also the origin of the name is uncertain, but as this area  has always been a commercial one, maybe the name wanted to reflect the character of it.
In any case the Cafe Comercial exists since 1887 and is the oldest one in Madrid.
In 1906, Eduardo Contreras Bueno came to Madrid from Guadalajara in order to open a business. He had no concrete idea about his future and in a certain moment he was offered the Cafe Comercial and the Calderon Theater. Why he decided to take the Cafe and not the theater is something we do not know, but it seems it was the right decision as the business is still in the hands of the family.
Cafe ComercialEduardo´s brother was an arquitect and he made some improvements in the Cafe, like the wooden columns.
It is wonderful to sit in this cafeteria with its old tables and chairs. It takes us back to last century in a few seconds.
Eduardo and his wife worked very hard to make the business flourish. Sometimes the cooks simply did nos show up for work and she had to take their place. In those days coffee was brewed in a pot, and  it seems that the one she made was liked by al clients. In 1943 Eduardo died and his son took over the business until 1980.
For a time they served the first "platos combinados" in Madrid, a meal served on one plate with different ingredients. But after some time they returned to the original idea. One of their most famous drinks is the hot chocolate which is stCafe Comercialill made following the recipe of Eduardo´s wife. Their churros and cakes are homemade and a great success among their clients.
During many years the Cafe was also very popular in the evenings as many people from a near theater came after the show to have a drink.
The Cafe Comercial was also the first cafeteria with women working behind the bar.

The Cafe Comercial is famous for its "tertulias". Tertulias were very popular specially in the 19th century. They were gatherings were people talked about literature, poetry, politics, almost everything. Some of these tertulias were led by famous playwrights or poets. The Cafe Comercial had a very popular tertulia visited by many journalists. Several newspapers had their editorial office nearby and once the newspaper was in the printing press, the journalists came to the Cafe Comercial to relax and talk about the latests events. Among these "tertulianos" were Jardiel Poncela, Alfonso Paso, Mingote, Fernando Dicenta, Ignacio Aldecoa or Berlanga.
Still nowadays these tertulias take place, not only among writers or journalists, but also among pilots, doctors or even needlework fans.
The Cafe Comercial also houses a federated chess club.

Cafe ComercialFor a time there were parties in the evening with dancing, but nowadays it  would be too small for such an event.
It is interesting to see that many clients come almost every day. They all have their favourite place, where they can sit for hours, watching people passing by. The waiters know the clients, how they like their coffee and if they like to talk or prefer to be left alone. Many of them seem to be part of the history of the Cafe Comercial.
One of their faithful clients, who does not miss a visit when he is in Madrid is American actor John Malkovich.

Cafe ComercialThe Cafe Comercial has also an upper floor with internet conection, It was the first cafeteria offering this service.
Since 1980 Isabel Contreras, her son Andres and her cousin Maria Isabel and her son Fernando, the third and fourth generation work hand in hand to offer heir clients the best service, to maintain the classical style of the Cafe Comercial and let a bit of Madrilian history become part of our daily life. They work with the same enthusiasm as when they started and we can only hope that this story will go on for many years, so that we can all enjoy a coffee surrounded by a special atmosphere.

@Copyright 2008, 2009 Mª Dolores Diehl Busch. All rights reserved.
Sponsored by Keydomo S.L.