Emblematic establishment closes forever
Visitors to Palma will know the Forn des Teatre even if they've never set foot in it because of its iconic shop frontage. Its shop sign, windows, shutters and decoration are just so typical of the Art Nouveau/Modernist style of the early 20th Century and latterly have attracted scholars, students and tourists who come to admire its undoubted style.
Unfortunately it has just closed, the last tenant has 'with great sadness' handed back the keys to the shop to the owner of the building who as yet has not announced any plans for the premises. What's happened is, as I understand it, and I'm no Philadelphia lawyer, that there have been changes to the 'law of old leases.'
Prior to these, long standing tenants in commercial premises who died or retired could pass the lease down to their heirs but this is no longer the case. So on the retirement of the current tenant the landlord exercised his right to take the property back.
The Forn des Teatre, opposite the old Gran Hotel/CaixaForum, is (was) one of the most well known bakeries in Palma and has been serving up sweet things to take away or eat on its terrace for around 100 years since it first became a Forn (Catalan for oven or furnace) opened by Jaume Alemany whose name can still be seen on the shop sign.
Over the years its become established not only as a great bakery, but a photo opportunity stop on the tourist route as well as a pop up lecture theatre for students of architecture and design. Its style is typical of the Catalan inspired Modernism of the time and illustrates how important these small commercial premises were in the creation of the style both externally and internally.
The building itself is a 19th century creation, but the Forn des Teatre's frontage and interior were 'modernismised' in 1916 in the Art Nouveau style with a golden winged dragon, characteristic 'vegetation art,' and sensuous wavey curves. Interestingly, when the first airmail service from Palma to Barcelona started by hydroplane in 1920, among the first things carried were ensaimadas (the typical sweet pastry breakfast) from the Forn. It was also shown in an episode of the 80's TV power series Falcon Crest and has been featured in the National Geographic magazine.
It seems such a shame that it has to close though it must be said that as the frontage has protected status, in theory it can't be altered.