Aziz Mirzo sometimes serves customers until midnight. Photos | author
By Barzan Mohammed
BARCELONA — In central Barcelona is a restaurant run by a young Kurd from Rojava, Aziz Mirzo. He came to Catalonia 16 years ago and has opened a restaurant near La Rambla Street where he serves Kurdish dishes from early in the morning until late at night.
When I was in Barcelona during the build-up to Catalonia’s referendum in September 2017, Mirzo told me: “We serve light food meals because it is mostly laborers who turn here.
“In addition, our restaurant is located between two schools. Students pass by here every day. Most of them come here to buy sandwiches which they put in their bags or eat them while walking. This has given a boost to our marketability.”
Mizro prepares food for the day's customers at his restaurant near La Rambla Street in Barcelona.
He opened the eatery with his uncle Ghani Mirzo who is also from Syrian Kurdistan. They have named it Narin Restaurant.
The sun sets late in Barcelona. It was 9 p.m., yet the skylines were still light.
The weather in the beautiful city is hotter than in most of Europe and long days in Barcelona and keep customers coming late into the night.
“There are no students or laborers during the night. But there is a nearby cinema. Movie goers buy food here and take it to the cinema. They will come back here after the cinema too, which is why we sell food until 12 a.m.,” Mirzo explained.
Food prices in his eatery are generally less expensive than other places.
“I have good revenue. Half of the revenue I make will be left for me after the rent and taxes are deducted,” Mirzo said, explaining that the restaurant does between €400 and €800 in daily sales.
Because of its climate, markets in Catalonia can remain open late into the night, and this serves the interests of people like Aziz, especially in spring through fall.
Diners enjoy eating outside in cosmopolitan Barcelona.
People from many European countries and beyond turn to Catalonia for tourism in August and September because of its comparatively temperate weather. Many people stay in Catalonia for Christmas festivities too.
A customer named Antonio told me: “We come a long way to eat here because of it tastes good and has cheap prices compared to other places in the market. I like falafel a lot.”
Catalonia held its independence referendum on October 1, just a week after the Kurdistan Region’s vote. Catalan officials and its people said they were paying attention to how the international community would react to Kurdistan’s referendum.
The Catalonia region consists of four provinces and has its capital in Barcelona. Its people, with their own language and history, have struggled to achieve independence from Spain, but multiple efforts to reach sovereignty have been unsuccessful so far.
I initially had thought there would be no Kurds here, because Kurdish immigrants normally go to northern European countries. However, there are many Kurdish families living in Barcelona, but they lack accurate statistics.
When I visited a Catalan family they realized I was a Kurd and then greeted me in Kurdish.
I saw many young Kurdish people working in the city’s market place. They also own shops, markets, restaurants and barber shops.