Goodbye to the Santa candy, the symbol of Madrid chocolates

Foto del autor


Santa's legendary chocolates are gone. On Serrano Street, at number 56, in the heart of the opulent district of Salamanca, is a candy store that opened its doors in 1932, when the well-known street, today the nerve center of the Golden Mile, was just another from a popular neighborhood of Madrid. Little by little, before everything was luxury stores, there were days when the street was filled with gatherings and cafes where the great thinkers and artists of the capital went. Of these, which ended up being part of Madrid as always, almost nothing remains. Now, in front of Santa's window, mainly office workers and tourists pass by, loaded as they are with Gucci, Prada and Chanel bags, barely noticing the large golden brass sign that reads: Santa. The owners of the chocolate shop have announced this Thursday that Santa is closing after almost a century and that they are selling all their furniture. “The old rental contract for the premises, after my mother's death, cannot be transferred, so we are going to have to vacate it in May. On Serrano Street, the only ones who can afford to pay a six-figure rent are the large franchises. That, for an artisan business like ours, is unviable,” says film producer Enrique López Lavigne, 56, who sees the closure of the family business as a symbol of that traditional Madrid that is disappearing.

Upon entering through the doors of the candy store, the smell of chocolate and the gold of the brass-lined wooden shelf, handmade in the sixties, transport visitors to another era. “It's like a time capsule. We have not changed anything about its decoration since we opened,” says López, who belongs to the third generation of Santa and who would like customers who come to the store these days to be able to feel that atmosphere. He wants them to remember the cats, those people from Madrid with parents and grandparents who are also from Madrid, and the chulapas and chulapos who packed the store during the San Isidro festivities to buy chocolates. A Madrid that has been portrayed in sepia photos and that, with each century-old store that closes, ceases to exist a little more. The chocolate shop was founded by his grandfather, José López Rodríguez. Initially, it was a chocolate factory that was in Plaza de Roma, in the Madrid municipality of Leganés. Later, they opened their first location on Espoz and Mina 11 and, in their prime, they also had two other locations: one on Preciados, 13, and Serrano, 56. Now, 92 years later, they do not none will remain. “We always thought that Santa would be eternal.” López was the one who created all the recipes for chocolates that keep their secret and are coated by hand. “He made chocolate an art and a livelihood for his family,” says the producer, who feels very proud of maintaining the original recipes and suppliers. The mouth-watering almond and hazelnut rocks, coconut logs, old firewood, and dark chocolate bars with cinnamon are long-time favorites of loyal customers. In reality, it is impossible to choose just one of the chocolates among the dozens of chocolates that the store has. What affects the most is what happens closest. To not miss anything, subscribe.SubscribeIts fine packaging is recognized by anyone who has received a box of chocolates from Santa: baskets, tea boxes or covered in fabric. Now, these wrappers are part of the furniture that is displayed to be purchased in the store. “Everything is for sale. From the weights for 2,000 euros, the fabric with which the store is lined, to its large spiral staircase from 1957 whose price has not yet been calculated,” says Verónica López, Enrique's sister. When they think about the store, They can't help but get excited. They both grew up within those walls, enjoying the smell of pure chocolate. “I remember that when I came home from school I always went up that staircase to do my homework. Then my sister arrived and together we waited for my parents to close the store at 8:00 p.m. There the four of us returned home in a mini 850, which was the one with which we distributed the chocolates,” Enrique remembers. During those years, he saw Arab sheikhs, King Felipe VI and dozens of artists enter the store, among them Concha Velasco, who spent the afternoons with his mother bombón va, bolón come, talking about the latest news from the world of Madrid entertainment. He also remembers all those Christmases and holidays when her parents came home late because those were the days when they had the most work at the store. In return, yes, when it came to giving a gift or bringing chocolates to school for his birthday, he and his sister were the kings. Martine Lavinge died at the age of 77 after dedicating her entire life to candy store. “On her last birthday, I rented a limousine so my mother could see Madrid. She could hardly move anymore and the only thing she asked me was that we go through Serrano to see the store window,” López recalls. Until the last day in the hospital, Martine Lavigne asked for photos of the store to see how the chocolates were. “My mother was an 18-year-old Parisian who gave the chocolate shop of my father, José Manuel López's, family the cosmopolitan and feminine touch that made Santa the most important chocolate shop in the capital,” says López.On Thursday, Verónica He asked Enrique to put a tweet on social network to see if it would help sell the store's furniture. “I was surprised by people's reaction, I didn't expect it. “So much affection and love for Santa is overwhelming,” says the producer, although his heart breaks thinking about the closure. “It is a stage that closes and feels like something tragic.” López, before dedicating himself to the big screen, was, of course, a bonbonero. Santa will remain open until mid-May, waiting for all the furniture to find a new home and the last bonbons to fall into the hands of those with a sweet tooth. With its closure, Carmen Lariva, who has been behind the counter for the last seven years, will also retire. “We have let her die and now we are aware that we do not want to give up Santa. We have been talking to the family about how we can re-establish the candy store using the brand. It won't be easy without a showcase, but this is also part of the history of the saga,” says López. Serrano Street is left without its sweetest corner. Subscribe here to our daily newsletter about Madrid.