It was the morning before our second day of the Otoxo Productions Into Industry programme ( when unbeknown to us we went for what was to be the most productive coffee of the month.

Within minutes of entering Bar Monserrat, every one of us was similarly taken in by its charm; which is due in great part to the likeability of the owner, Javier. At first encounter we were endeared to him by his singularly cheeky grin and made comfortable by his congenial service. After interviewing him, this endearment grew into respect as we discovered how hard he works, the mental and physical toll, and his overlooked hopes and dreams.

The bar, in the heart of el Raval, soon became our favourite watering-hole and we would recommend it likewise to any Barcelonians who appreciate a true gem when they see one.

But all things aside you may ask what, in a city as diverse as Barcelona, was so special about this one? When we had ummed and ahhed over other potential characters for days, why were we all so sure about Javier after mere minutes? Why did we feel this so reflected the uncelebrated and unique profile we were searching for in the Voices, Faces, City Spaces series…

Maybe it was Javier’s straightforward and unpretentious manner or his unaffected charm, which in these days is as rare and hard to find as a bar like the Monserrat – which has remained untouched and unaltered for many years and is one of the few enduring establishments of its kind. What’s certain is that in a world transforming at a bewildering rate, we seemed to have found a little corner where time stands still.

Text by Lisa Maria Goretz