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Salvador Sans
Owner of Cafés El Magnífico — Barcelona, Spain

I play tennis with my friends three times a week, come rain, snow or shine, we play. I’ve been playing doubles with one of them for 50 years. At 8 or 9, we were playing Catalonia championships together.

Through coincidences of life, at 16 I was a line umpire and referee at the Compte de Godó championship, also known as the Barcelona Open. By 18, I was a chair umpire. I went to Paris for the Men's International Professional Tennis Council umpire course, got my title and worked for 10 years. I was lucky enough to referee for people like John McEnroe, Guillermo Vilas, Ivan Lendl and many other tennis legends in Spain and Prague.

For a 19-year-old kid, to get up on a chair in front of 5,000 people is a spectacular experience. It’s a situation where you need to show composure, know how to apply the rules that you have learned by heart, and understand what is fair and what is not. I quit in 1990. I didn’t want to travel as much as umpiring required—I had a job and a girlfriend. She’s my wife now. I spent a lot of time away from home, and I didn't want to spend my life atop a chair saying ’15 love,’ and ‘out!’

I met my wife through a friend I’d done my military service with. We met in 1986 and got married in 1991, and here we are, two children later. She’s a huge fan of tea and coffee. We decided we would work together when we opened the tea shop on Diagonal. She left the company that she had been working at with her parents, and now she manages the entire tea department at our company.

I played football on these streets with the other neighbors when I was small.

I was raised on the streets that our cafe is on. I played football on these streets with the other neighbors when I was small. It’s a very human, family-oriented neighborhood. There are many stores that have passed from one generation to the next, and we buy things from each other. That creates a community. It’s increasingly expensive to live here, but there are still many people who have been here their whole lives.

Santa María del Mar Cathedral is a neighborhood icon. It’s not a church built by the powerful people of the time, but rather by the workers and sailors in the city—hard-working people. It’s a symbol of Barcelona, for me and for the neighborhood. A symbol that shows that with effort, people can achieve whatever they want, even without the support of powerful people.

Don’t just read things that are on your side or that speak to your own perspective.

Those of us who lived through the dictatorship were brought up in a time when the public sentiment was ‘Be quiet, don't say anything. Don't get yourself mixed up in problems that are difficult to solve.’ With the age I am and the business I run, I might seem very right-wing, but that’s not the case. I read enough Marx at university to make me reflect on the things that were happening then and to question them. That’s why I say I’m a rebel. I don’t see myself as a typical businessman because I think outside of the box. 

I try to give to people this advice: don’t just read things that are on your side or that speak to your own perspective. Listen to and read things from the other side, too, so that you can fully understand your opinion. As Bertrand Russell said, it’s not important what you think, but rather the reasons you have to think the way you do.