This is a story of boy meets girl, they fall in love at the beach, and then open their own restaurant by the sea. A cozy little place where fresh fish is caught every morning and served to a local clientele. This could be the perfect beginning to a charming love story of a humble tiny beach bar. The only difference is that every summer, for the past 45 years, this restaurant has been welcoming billionaires, successful jetsetters and famous celebrities to its tables. Juan y Andrea. Andrea y Juan. This couple has managed to set up a prosperous business that attracts the most exclusive crowds to the beach of Formentera.
A familial and informal vibe
“What my father did was to cast the nets in the afternoon on board our our llaut when we went to S’Espalmador. The next morning he would then collect the net to have the daily fish. The rest they would grow in the orchard,” recalls Juanjo, one of Juan and Andrea’s three children. It is not about being in the right place at the right time, but about hard work and love for the island. From what Juanjo recounts about his parent’s story, we can imagine the wildness of Formentera and the solitude local people like them – born and raised in the island of S’Espalmador – enjoyed at the time.
Everything changed during the 80s. More and more clients were arriving to Formentera, specifically to the beach of Ses Illetes where Juan y Andrea was spotted. These tourists were however mostly European, especially those german groups settling in Ibiza.
“People came referenced from Ibiza. I still have customers from those days! Sometimes not even the parents, but the children. There are generations of clients that keep coming here. I grew up with children playing on the beach that are now my customers,” says Juanjo.
The scope of Juan y Andrea seemed to be travelling at a fast pace and the business started to grow significantly. With their exquisite fresh seafood and exclusive location inside a natural reserve like Ses Salines, the restaurant appealed to a foreign clientele looking to unwind from routine and daily constraints.
“This is what Juan Y Andrea is about. Whether you’re famous or not. We don’t treat people differently.”
It is not what Juan and Andrea were looking for though. But it came as it is thanks to their professional service and familial attitude. And yet they still maintain the same attitude towards all their customers. When asked about how do they feel about celebrities having a bite at their restaurant, Juanjo seems unfazed. “After much experience we have come to a point in which everyone is treated the same way regardless of their economic or social status. Funny thing is that clients accept and appreciate it.”
Detractors might argue prices are way too high for what it’s offered. At the end of the day, chairs are made of plastic and diners wipe their mouths with paper napkins. But reality goes beyond appearances. Having lunch at Juan y Andrea means being surrounded by famous personalities, maybe an arab billionaire sat in the next table or a renowned actor in his swimming suit.
A luxury experience in a homely environment
“The ambience is not shaped by luxury but by the public coming in,” asserts Juanjo. Everyday Juan y Andrea emerges as something different, with a special clientele, like a painting. When rising the topic, Juanjo seems to shun the word ‘luxury’. “Our aim isn’t offering luxury because our public is actually trying to escape from the luxury they go throughout the whole year. That’s the appeal of the room, the informality it breathes.”
The restaurant moves to the beat of Ibiza, thus 90% of their audience comes from there every summer during their holidays. Especially high class tourists arriving to Formentera by private boat. Access on foot can be very hectic, given the large influx of visitors to Ses Salines Natural Park, long queues and saturated beaches.
But being able to eat delicious fish with your feet in the sand, taking a dip in the sea before dessert and enjoying a fresh cocktail in your bikini is an experience worth paying for. Not to mention Juan y Andrea’s exclusive and professional service at all times! No wonder why there are people already booking a table in January for the next summer season.
Any plans for the future? “So far no plans ahead of us,” says Juanjo. Remaining a family business along his two other brothers and his parents is the ultimate goal for the next years to come. The concept of Juan y Andrea can only exist here, in Formentera: nowhere else.