A popular Spanish tapas restaurant and bar tucked away near a busy Merseyside train station has been transporting customers to Spain for almost three decades.
Located just off Bickerstaff Street by St Helens Central train station, La Casa Vieja boasts a traditional and rustic decor and serves authentic dishes and imported beer and wine.
The family-run business was opened 27-years-ago by husband and wife Manolo Estupinan-Quintana and Joan Martin, who met in the Canary Islands of Spain and decided to move back to England to raise their young family.
Head Chef Manolo, originally from Gran Canaria, prides himself on serving fresh, locally sourced cuisine and makes everything from scratch, from sauces and dressings to tapas and desserts.
When customers arrive and walk through the tunnel to La Casa Vieja's courtyard, they are immediately transported from St Helens to Spain and can enjoy an array of delicious tapas dishes, homemade sangria and cocktails and more.
Manolo and Joan's children, daughter Siobhan and son Mikel, both work at the restaurant, which recently underwent a refurbishment during the pandemic.
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Manager Siobhan Fairclough told the ECHO: "My mum and dad have had Casa for 27 years. They worked hard, my dad still does. He works seven days a week, he hasn't had a holiday in 27 years.
"I started working in there when I was 12 for some pocket money on Saturday nights and from then on I’ve done more.
"You can't get a more family place then you do here. My brother is in the kitchen and I'm on the outside.
"Our business is very important to us, to my dad. My dad goes to the market three times a week. He’s a wonderful chef, but everything he does is with heart and if it’s not he doesn't send it out.
"Everything is rustic and authentic and Casa is known for serving great quality food."
La Casa Vieja serves a wide selection of fresh fish or meat dishes, as well as vegetarian options and homemade desserts.
Siobhan said when the business had to close due to lockdown restrictions, the restaurant began offering takeaway and underwent a refurbishment, which saw new murals dedicated to her dad and his homeland adorning the walls.
Siobhan said: " You’re in St Helens and if you walk into our tunnel to our courtyard you're now in Spain or Gran Canaria.
"The courtyard, when you get nice weather and sun, it’s like a suntrap. I love when everyone is outside and having a sangria .
"We’ve had customers return year after year. I started here when I was 12 and I'm now 33 and I know my dad has watched us grow up but it’s also customers coming in with their families.
"That’s Spain, it’s about family and children."
Siobhan said it's been a hard year on the family business due to the pandemic, but that the support and help from other local firms and businesses, friends and loyal customers has meant "Spain is still in St Helens after 27 years."
She thanked partner Gareth at Fairclough roofing specialist, long-time family friends Ken & Keith Hughes at Vinyline graphics, Mike at H.M.C maintenance, Danny at Funky Timber and their staff for helping make their recent refurbishment possible and Gary Maddock from St Helens Council for his support.
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Siobhan said: "My dad, he's 59 and he’s put nearly 30 years of his life into it. He’s just amazing and he’s put everything into Casa.
"My dad is the heart of Casa, we all are too but it started with him. He just wants to get ready to go now and have a much brighter future then it has been."
The business is set to reopen May 20 under government guidance. To find out more click here.