Located in La Atunara (La Línea), the Restaurante La Marina once catered for distinguished guests and won numerous awards. The establishment was a landmark within the local catering industry until it shut its doors permanently in 2016. These days, only a dilapidated building remains; a far cry of what it once was.
In 2009, the ‘Espacios Secretos’ review website branded the La Marina restaurant “One of the best quality choices to be found in the Campo de Gibraltar”.
Not a single negative aspect was picked up in their review which highlighted the fact that this restaurant had pride of place in the prestigious Michelin Guide. At the time, the guide listed 237 restaurants that served cuisine of high standards at a price of €35 per head.
The La Marina restaurant is a significant part of the 150-year history of La Línea de la Concepción, and such landmarks such as this should not be forgotten.
The Restaurante La Marina was founded in 1947, although its humble origins actually date back a few years before this, with a man called Cayetano Caparrós who sold skewered sardines he had brought over from Malaga, which he prepared and sold on at Levante beach.
Years later, the Caparrós family went on to open a very popular restaurant, and then in 1947, the definitive building for La Marina was erected on Levante beach, in the fishing village of La Atunara – where it remained until the very end under the terms of a special licence which it required because it was built on the beach itself.
The running of this unique restaurant was handed down three generations into the Caparrós family; the final owner being Francisco Caparrós, who passed away in 2015.
The Caparrós family knew how to bring Linense gastronomy to its greatest heights. In addition a distinguished clientele, locals would also frequent this restaurant because it provided unbeatable value for money. Many Gibraltarians and residents of other towns in the Campo de Gibraltar also had counted it among their favourite restaurants.
It received numerous awards. In 2005, for example, La Marina won the National Gastronomy Award from Radio Turismo. Two years later it was awarded the Gold Badge of the Provincial Federation of Hospitality Entrepreneurs (Horeca) on his 60th anniversary.
In 2009, La Línea de la Concepción paid the restaurant a well-deserved tribute by awarding it the city’s Medal of Merit. The reasoning was that the La Marina restaurant was, at that time, a hallmark of the city and of the fishing district of La Atunara, and that its owners had, since its foundation, “acquired more than enough merits to be worthy of the concession, distinction provided for in the Regulations by constituting a top-level gastronomic venue in the province of Cádiz, which is a source of pride for the city,” SUR wrote at that time.
In its last days, some members of staff took the reins of the restaurant, but were unable to make it a success, and it finally closed down in 2016. The financial crisis of 2008 had also taken its toll, and La Marina closed in such a discreet way, that for some time it went unnoticed by most of the citizens of La Línea and the surrounding area.
A lot had happened during its 70 years in operation. La Marina was the epicenter of La Línea de la Concepción’s social scene. The high-society in the area frequented the restaurant, as did such personalities as the writer Orson Welles and Sean Connery, to name a few. Bullfighters, artists and famous flamenco dancers would visit regularly.
It had a capacity for 400 people as well as a summer terrace where one could enjoy a skewer of sardines on the beach.
Its menu was mainly made up of seafood, and its interior was decorated with a nautical theme. How could it be otherwise?
The restaurant hosted many romantic dinners, business lunches, family celebrations and was a place of reference for lovers of good cuisine, La Marina went down in history and today it is devastating to see the deterioration.
The passage of time and neglect do not do it any justice. A completely dilapidated property, with broken glass and doors, which make it easy to break in to, has become a melancholic sight. Any previous time was better than this.
What was left within the building has been stolen and the building has been used by squatters and presents a sorry sight.
Old photos provided by La Línea through Time and Pepe Martínez, from the Linense Historical Protection.