Double Acts: Ibiza’s Power Couples


MANY of Ibiza’s most successful restaurants are jointly run by couples. Here, eight dynamic duos open up about combining efforts, overcoming obstacles, sharing dreams and their unified journeys to building a thriving Ibiza business.

Sa Punta: Restaurant lounge bar, contemporary cuisine
sapunta2Power couple: Rita and Rodolphe Sachs
Nationality: French
First meeting: 2000 at Rodolphe’s former restaurant in Paris
Restaurant opened: 2005

On humble beginnings:
Rodolphe: “I had a restaurant in Paris. I sold it and one day we said ‘OK, we’re going to change’ – and so we moved to the island.”
On the concept:
Rita: “The atmosphere is chic and relaxed. We’re using fresh products and we make everything in the restaurant, from the ice cream to the sauce.”
On the challenges:
Rodolphe: “The challenge is to keep our clientele, make new clientele and that the new clientele return. If a client comes back a second time on his vacation then we’ve succeeded.”
On working together:
Rita: “A lot of people ask us how we can be together 24 hours. For us it’s completely normal and we can’t imagine doing it another way. We have our days, terrible, big fights and everything, but in the end we’re looking in the same direction.”
On the secret of success:
Rodolphe: “We’re involved. We find and we construct a team that we try to keep every year. You have to both be
here every day if you want success in the long term.”
She says: “He’s got a very good knowledge of all the products, food and beverage, that we use in the restaurant that’s why he sells it very well.”
He says: “She is good at making the restaurant full. She’s too good.”

Ama Lur: classic basque cuisine
Power couple: Juan Felix Inurrita and Emilio Zurbano
Nationality: Spanish
First meeting: In 1985 at a San Sebastian bus stop
Restaurant opened: 1981 (by Juan)

On humble beginnings:
Juan: “There was an antique shop in this house before, and before that there was a very old grocery store that would sell all kinds of things, from espadrilles to carob beans.”
On the concept:
Emilio: “We want people to come back and still see the same people every time. We don’t want our restaurant to
be a trendy place for a year and then it is forgotten.”
On the challenges:
Emilio:”We may have some days with disagreements or small rows but once we leave the restaurant and go home,
then you say ‘ciao’ and leave it.”
On working together:
Emilio:”We compromise. Disagreements have happened many times but then it is forgotten and that is it.”
Juan: “We haven’t killed each other yet.”
On the secret of success:
Emilio: “I think we transmit that there is a harmonious relationship between the two of us and also with our staff. There is not much of difference between bosses and employees – we are more like a family.”
Juan says: “He is a hard worker, a very hard worker.”
Emilio says: “He puts up with everything; I am not like that. I get angry right away but it is gone later. He puts up with a lot for quite some time and then the day he explodes it is like a bomb!”

KM5: Restaurant lounge, French/Italian/Argentinian cuisine
km5Power couple: Ana Megido Guerra and Josch Genske
Nationalities: Canarian and German
First meeting: 1994 on the beach at Sa Trinxa
Restaurant opened: 1995 (by Josch)

On humble beginnings:
Josch: “Before it opened, everybody said I was crazy because it was so far away from the centre of Ibiza Town. It was an old finca, then it was a jazz bar.”
On the concept:
Josch: “KM5 was the first venue that had this kind of style; people can come and have dinner and sit in the garden. I wanted something fair and honest with staff that are a good team, polite and friendly.”
On the challenges:
Josch: “We have faced many challenges, but the whole concept makes it a success: the restaurant, the different bars and the garden. The season is short so you have to be strong. It’s not easy, but we’ve survived 17 years here.”
On working together:
Ana: “It’s nice working together because we have a project, we have a family. It’s not like a business. For us KM5 is like our baby.”
On the secret of success:
Josch: “KM5 is a success because we do things with heart. I love what I do, bringing people together, and people can feel it.”
She says: “He’s really good at relationships with people. He’s a very good person, sometimes too much.”
He says: “She has fantastic ideas. She’s very clever and she is very funny. She’s not only my wife, she’s also my
best friend.”

La Olivia: Al fresco restaurant, Mediterranean cuisine
laoliviaPower couple: Ursula Jaksch and Rene Salle
Nationalities: German and French
First meeting: 1982 in the South of France
Restaurant opened: 1985

On humble beginnings:
Ursula: “It was a friend of my husband’s who said to come to Ibiza. She said, ‘Here’s a little restaurant to buy’, and we bought it. People always said to me ‘Oh Ibiza is for sex and drugs, don’t go there!’.”
On the concept:
Rene: “When I opened I just wanted to make the best kitchen and attract the most people because it’s good quality food and it’s a good place.”
On the challenges:
Rene: “To get the outside terrace was an obstacle. We had to negotiate with the neighbours, with everybody.”
On working together:
Ursula: “We both started to work together as waiters, and I threw an ice cream on him and the people applauded. Then we decided that’s not the way we want to do things, so now we have to be in our own place.”
On the secret of success:
Rene: “This location is very privileged and it’s very convivial because everyone sits beside each other, sometimes alongside famous people, and it’s a good mix.”
She says: “He is always here. I can count on him. He goes every day to do the shopping. Every day.”
He says: “I like her organisation. She has good contact with people and she speaks four languages very well, and people love that.”

Trattoria Del Sole: Country restaurant, Italian cuisine
trattoriaPower couple: Paola and Pio Di Biase
Nationality: Italian
First meeting: 1991 in Lignano Sabbiadoro
Restaurant opened: 2001

On humble beginnings:
Pio: “We met, fell in love and I brought her to Ibiza. I have had my house here since 1974. She started to cook slowly and make dinners for up to 100 people, so I thought maybe we should open a restaurant.”
On the concept:
Pio: “Trattoria means a family home restaurant. This restaurant is famous for the little table on the road with two chairs. That was a friend’s idea.”
On the challenges:
Pio: “The biggest problem is that Ibiza’s still a seasonal place. To open is like opening a new restaurant every year.”
On working together:
Pio: “When we have a big catering job and there is not enough time, we are both full of adrenalin and concentration
so we don’t have time to disagree. We just do it and we’re very strong. We understand each other very well.”
On the secret of success:
Pio: “Last year the restaurant celebrated its ten-year anniversary. I think the quality of the food is sometimes better
than even in Italy.”
She says: “If I cook I need to have his approval. If he’s not there I’m not sure that the food is good enough. After 11
years we need each other. We do everything together and we still enjoy it.”
He says: “We get the confidence and compensation from the other one for what we need.”

Can Pilot: Authentic Ibizenco, grill
canpilotPower couple: Carmen Viñas and Juan Pilot
Nationality: Ibicenco
First meeting: 1976 in Ibiza
Restaurant opened: 1989

On humble beginnings:
Juan: “We have been married for 31 years. I started when I was young and I worked in a pub in Sant Antonio before I opened this, and still people from that time come to see me every year. This restaurant is from my father. It is now in the fourth generation of my family.”
On the concept:
Juan: “We started with tapas and the typical food from here. Now we work a lot with the grill; a lot of meat, but not fish.”
On the challenges:
Juan: “Before we made breakfast also, but not this year. In the summer we would go to sleep at 2.30am and wake up at 8am. It was too much.”
On working together:
Juan: “We do the same jobs and we work together all the time. All of these years, 24 hours together and no divorce yet!”
On the secret of success:
Juan: “When we started there wasn’t anywhere to eat here in Sant Rafel. We were the first. Now we are full every night and we’re open all year.”
She says: “For the first few years Juan was making the food. He’s very good.”
He says: “She is good at organising people, taking the reservations and looking after the stock.”

El Chiringuito: Beach restaurant, Mediterranean cuisine
elchiringuitoPower couple: Olivia Fleury and Jonathan Thorogood
Nationalities: French and English
First meeting: 2007 at Trattoria del Mar restaurant
Restaurant opened: 2009

On humble beginnings:
Jonathan. “In 2009 I was at the Gran Hotel spa and a friend told me about a deal that had fallen through: El
Chiringuito. I called Olivia and asked her if she could have any beach club, which would it be? She replied ‘El
Chiringuito!’ ‘Thats lucky,’ I said ‘because we are going to buy it!’ ”
On the concept:
Olivia: “It’s all about being real and honest. We want people to leave and feel like they’ve had a really good day.”
On the challenges:
Jonathan: “When we launched neither of us had any real experience but we had a passion and vision. Ignorance is
bliss sometimes. I don’t think that we really understood quite the size of the machine after we bought it.”
On working together:
Jonathan: “We’re very different people but fundamentally we see exactly the same in life. Olivia’s much more
organised than I am. I create the chaos and she puts it in order.”
On the secret of success:
Olivia: “Our success is the attention to detail. Every single day we make sure that the people and staff have a good experience.”
She says: “He’s always wanting more, and better, that’s his personality. He’s a perfectionist.”
He says: “It would be impossible to operate this place without her. She’s a very key component.”

Can Domingo: Finca restaurant, French Mediterranean food
candomingoPower couple: Dagmar and Jean Baptiste Guichesseux
Nationality: French
First meeting: Paris in 1998
Restaurant opened: 2004

On humble beginnings:
Dagmar: “We got married in Es Cubells in 2002. We were still living in Paris and thinking of moving here one day.
Then we found the restaurant. It used to be a family finca and they turned it into a restaurant in the 1980s.”
On the concept:
Jean Baptiste: “We wanted to create a refined atmosphere in a traditional finca to keep with the spirit of Ibiza.”
On the challenges:
Jean Baptiste: “Every summer we have to spend a lot of time finding the perfect dish. It’s difficult to keep surprising
people in Ibiza.”
On working together:
Jean Baptiste: “Usually we agree; that’s why we wanted to run the business together because we have the same ideas.
We don’t always agree of course, but on most things.”
On the secret of success:
Dagmar: “We have very regular clientele. They love the food made by Jean Baptiste and the friendly welcome that
I provide.”
She says: “He is very creative. He’s always looking to improve. He always listens to everyone.”
He says: “We are both perfectionists and I am always learning from my wife. It’s good to have someone like her
to make me always do my best.”

First published in Pacha Magazine, Ibiza, September 2011.
© Abbey Stirling