Independent tapas restaurant to close after 21 years
PUBLISHED: 14:30 17 February 2020 | UPDATED: 08:24 18 February 2020
A man who built his family around a Spanish restaurant has announced he is closing the business after 21 years.
Jose Garcia has run the Torero tapas restaurant in Fye Bridge since 1999, but will be closing the business in May.
An Italian restaurant is planned to take over the lease.
Mr Garcia moved to Norwich from Madrid with his wife, and said: "When we moved here we didn't have a penny. The council gave us a small grant which meant we could convert the apartment above the restaurant. It was derelict - we converted it so we could live there.
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"I have very fond memories here. I raised my two sons in the apartment upstairs. We don't live there any longer and it had its challenges, but I've worked harder than most people so that I can retire now."
Mr Garcia and his team of four staff say they have seen "everything" in the restaurant, from proposals to funerals.
"We have wedding parties for couples who love the restaurant," he said. "We have funerals for the same reason. We welcomed the Millennium in here.
"I'll miss my customers, and I've put a lot into this place. I tiled the walls myself, my father helped me with the decoration. At the moment I'm excited, not sad, but I'm sure I will be."
He added that the secret to his success was consistency.
"The menu hasn't changed, the service hasn't changed, the quality hasn't changed," he said. "It's very rare that someone would send food back saying it's not cooked how they'd like it."
He added that this element meant Torero outlived rival La Tasca when it opened down the road in Tombland.
"When La Tasca opened I was very nervous," he said. "We saw business fall slightly but then it picked right back up to normal. Everything you get in here is exactly what you'd get in Spain and that's why people like it."
He added that the staff - two full time and two part-time workers - are aware of his intentions.
"It's no secret, I've been saying for a while I want to retire," he said. "I'm going on a tour of Europe on my bike - I'm really looking forward to it."