The history of the picnic area “El Avión”

Behind every picnic area there is a unique story. Here we want to tell you the story of "El Avión", by Jordi Tresserras in an interview with Toni Lladró Gran.

Vicente Lladró Iranzo (Turís, Valencia 1907 – Castelldefels 1995) arrived in Barcelona to do his military service in 1928 at the Astilleros Barracks. Before that, he had already worked in the kitchen of a snack bar at the Malvarrosa beach in Valencia. He decided to stay and married Matilde Villanueva with whom he had two children, Vicente and Matilde. He worked as a pastry cook at the Hotel Oriento on the Ramblas and later at the Gran Casino Restaurando de los Baños de San Sebastián, the Granja Royal and the Euskadi restaurant, which after the Civil War would become the Navarra.

In 1936 the restaurant of the Baths of San Sebastian became a social dining room. In 1938, Vicente Lladró joined the Republican army and his family returned to Turís. There, first his daughter Matilde and shortly after his wife died of typhoid fever. He was wounded in the Novelda hospital. 

At the end of the War he returns to his house of the street Joaquim Costa 16 of Barcelona with his sister Dolors Lladró and his son Vicente. At that time he married Aurora Gran Martínez with whom he had three children: Miquel (Mike), Aurora and Antonio (Toni). He joined the Canaletas restaurant again, and in 1940 he joined the Terminus café and brewery until 1946.

Around 1944 they took over a bathing establishment where they offered a checkroom and drinks service on the free beach of San Miquel in Barceloneta, which they called La Grande Aurora. Toni Lladró understood that they made a play on words with the name and surname of his mother, Aurora Gran. On March 5, 1945, they signed the leap contract for the El Avión picnic area, “a hut located on the free beach (former Escuela de Mar)”, according to the document they have preserved. The previous owner was Gregoria Martínez Martínez. Vicente Lladró joins as head chef. The premises worked uninterruptedly every summer until the Merce of the year 1990. It was overthrown in 1991 with the other premises.

According to Toni Lladró the first years everything had to be dismantled and progressively the picnic areas were built and became permanent. If his establishment stood out above all it was for the fresh fish and rice dishes and paella was the star dish, the most popular were the mussels a la marinera. Even so, on busy days some 400 portions of paella could be sold between one and three thirty, between those served at the table and those that were made to take away. There were other dishes on the menu such as grilled sardines, calamari a la romana, as well as prawns, octopus, monkfish and special dishes such as zarzuela and parrillada (grilled fish and seafood). Always with fresh produce from the Platjeta de la Barceloneta. Vicente Lladró was at the stove and Aurora Gran was in charge of the checkroom. 

The Lladró Gran family opened another restaurant with the same name in Castelldefels in 1966. Miquel Lladró Gran, in the middle of the 80’s was in charge of El Avión de la Barceloneta, which was opened between May and September, and in winter he came to Castelldefels where the restaurant was open permanently. His wife Mercedes Navarro was in charge of the kitchen.

You may also be interested in

More articles