• Economy The hotelier who wants to overthrow TripAdvisor: "They are like the mafia"

  • Companies María Li Bao, from the Chinese from Aranjuez to devastate Madrid with the imperial cuisine

He owns La Diva, Marina Beach Club or Panorama.

For those who do not know Valencia, they are three giants of the hotel and leisure industry.

Antonio Calero decided to bet on

a kind of symbolism between the party and eating

moderately "well".

It is not the claim.

Most people do not go to this enclave facing the sea to eat but to dance.

There have been all kinds of music sessions and now the challenge of the Valencian businessman is different: La Pepica.

The mythical rice shop through which you passed

aron Sorolla, Hemingway or Borges, passes into his hands.

It is a movement with a great load of symbolism: Calero

learned that its closure was imminent and that McDonald's

You could open one of your stores there.

"It was a shame that Valencia and the people of Valencia lost a restaurant like La Pepica. And that a hundred-year-old restaurant was replaced by a fast food hamburger restaurant. I remember going to eat with the family as a child. La Pepica is part of history of the city and it didn't seem fair to me that it ended this way," Calero assured in November to

Hedonistic Guide


On November 8, 2022, the last details of the agreement whereby Calero would become the main figure of the La Pepica restaurant as of this January, were finalized.

A restaurant that

it's almost a monument

for the Valencians.

The businessman's idea is to give it a good facelift, with reforms that are scheduled to begin now, in January, but always "respecting the essence" of the establishment.

The one who is defined by his rice, not the interior design.

For this reason, Toni Calero wanted to respect the "yesterday" staff and has promised to keep the entire team and seniority in the company, including the grandchildren of the founders who were currently in charge of the business.

It has 125 years of history.

The entire seafaring Valencia has passed through his tables.

And the one that is not.

View this post on Instagram

Its beginnings date back to the time of King Alfonso XIII.

Fancisco Balaguer Aranda and Josefa Marqués Sanchís opened the restaurant in 1898 after King Alfonso XIII granted the concession to 44 families to settle on the shore of the beach

wooden huts for bathers


This kind of settlement in the middle of Paseo Neptuno was set up in June and removed in September.

In 1923, at the end of the season, it was still very hot and the barracks were maintained, but a month later, in October, a storm swept them away.

To prevent that from repeating itself, the following year, those picnic areas began to be built in the place of the promenade where it is currently located.

Everything has happened at La Pepica: also illustrious personalities such as the writer Vicente Blasco Ibáñez, who after eating stayed on the first floor, or

the painter Joaquin Sorolla


He, according to the rumor mill, could be one of the architects of the

senyoret rice.

It is said that it was at La Pepica where Sorolla asked for the shellfish to be peeled and placed on top of the rice so as not to stain his hands.

According to this same legend, that rice that today is present in all the menus of the rice shops was initially called "Pepica rice".

It is believed that this symbolism with Calero in front will be maintained.


He is not a businessman, he is unknown in Valencian society: he accumulates several controversies.

Among other public ones, he led in 2019 to

TripAdvisor before the Spanish courts claiming compensation of 660,000 euros

for the damage to the image of their businesses due to the "false" and "defamatory" reviews that were on their website.

El Tenedor, a TripAdvisor affiliate, takes between 12% and 15% commission when managing the restaurant reservation.

"The circle is perfect for TripAdvisor and works very much like the mafia, they are like the mafia that first visits you to threaten you and then offers you protection. As soon as you agree to sign up for The Fork, you notice that the number of bad reviews of customers is going down," he said.

And it went further.

This website, according to Calero, was an "authentic extortion mechanism", the paradise of "fake reviews".

He defended that it was not about the bad reviews but about the users who write them.

"TripAdvisor should filter the comments. But not to hide the bad reviews, but to avoid the lies, which not only hurt my business, but also undermine their own credibility,"

ditch this newspaper

, Five years ago.

It has not been the first controversy in which he has been involved.

Calero years ago became a Trending Topic on Twitter for other issues related to the Marina Beach Club.

LOC has contacted this Valencian space to obtain an interview with the businessman, or at least clarify his other controversies, and

has not received any response


To continue reading for free

Sign inSign up for free


subscribe to Premium

and you will have access to all the web content of El Mundo