Michelin Chefs Offer Food in Madrid Store Amid Rising Affluence

Three Michelin-starred chefs are seeking to bring a touch of pizzazz to Spain’s department-store industry.

David Munoz, Jordi Roca and Roberto Ruiz have opened food counters in the El Corte Ingles outlet on Madrid’s upscale Serrano Street, they said at a press conference today, a sign of rising Spanish prosperity as the economy starts to recover.

The partnership with the 75-year-old closely owned department store aims to take the concept of “food courts a step further,” said Munoz, who like fellow Spaniard Roca has three Michelin stars. Mexican Ruiz has one.

El Corte Ingles struggled through Spain’s economic crisis as demand shrunk in its domestic market, where 86 of its 88 stores are located. Spanish consumers are starting to feel more affluent as the economy recovers, posting its first full 12 months of growth since 2008 in the third quarter of last year.

The three chefs have split the seventh-floor food court of the Serrano Street store, which has access to an open-roof terrace. Ruiz and Munoz’s restaurants are designed as counters with a few tables nearby, while Roca’s is an ice-cream parlor.

The idea of joining department-store and high-end cuisine aims “to attract people and be innovative,” Guillermo Arcenegui, El Corte Ingles’s head of hospitality, said on the sidelines of the event presenting the food court. “There are people who come exclusively to this building.”

While Arcenegui declined to say how much was invested in the project, he did say it aims to serve 1,200 to 1,500 clients per day and employs about 60 people. Munoz said his restaurant alone required an 800,000-euro ($945,600) investment.

With stores in some of Spain’s most-desired locations, El Corte Ingles is renowned for offering everything from jewelry and stockings to airplane tickets and vacuum cleaners as scores of formally dressed salespeople with red blazers attend to clients.

The retailer had sales of 14.3 billion euros in 2013, giving it 11.3 percent market share in western Europe, according to researcher Euromonitor.

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