Last month marked the 10th Anniversary of the Pilon restaurant in Competa. The Grapevine spoke to the owners Christian and Mari Lu and was invited to their 10th Anniversary Party held at their restaurant.
The party was to celebrate 10yrs of business and to pay tribute to those that had played a part in creating their successful business from the first kitchen and front of house staff employed by them, to their regular and long term customers, to suppliers, their builder and close friends – they were all invited to enjoy free food, wine and live entertainment.
So where did the Pilon restaurant all begin? Mary Lu (originally from Northern Spain) and Christian met in the UK where Mari Lu worked in The Body Shop and Christian as a Head Chef at ‘El Parador’ in Camden Town. They met and married and lived for 7 years in London. However, their ambition was to eventually move to Spain to have children. They first moved to Burgos (Spain) for 8 months. However, when on a trip to Competa, to visit friends Roberto and Juan, they fell in love with the village and decided to move to Competa permanently. The first plan was to find Christian an employment as a chef and then open their own restaurant together. This was all achieved relatively quickly. Christian started work as the chef in the Pilon restaurant under its original owner, Paco. Mari Lu also worked as a waitress when there were busy periods or special functions on. As fate would have it the Pilon owner was looking to sell, he had renovated the building, started the restaurant and was ready to move on. In October 1997, Mary Lu and Christian took over the Pilon restaurant making a few changes with regards to décor and upholstery but they completely redesigned the kitchen and changed the menu. Christian remained in the kitchen as head chef and maintained the two kitchen ladies from the previous owner and Mary Lu became a full time waitress alongside Oscar (Taverna de Oscar). Succeeding in taking on a restaurant only a few months after arriving in Competa was certainly a challenge but they had tremendous support form their close friends Roberto and Juan.
Their philosophy over the years has been employing good staff and looking after them Pilon is known for the longevity of its employees and Christian and Mari Lu know the business wouldn’t be successful without the likes of Lolly, Pirri and Salva. Pilon has become a well known and praised restaurant in Competa. Mary Lu and Christian now have two children, Alexandra and Oliver, so Mary Lu has taken a more administrative role in the restaurant dealing with suppliers, staff wages, banking etc. Christian has remained as chef in the kitchen except on Wednesday and Sunday nights which are his days off. The restaurant attracts all nationalities English, Danish, German and the Spanish often book in large groups for their special occasion meals or ferias nights.
Finally, Mary Lu and Christian would like to thank everybody staff, suppliers and customers and here’s to another 10 years!