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Historic OSJ restaurant La Mallorquina closes after 86 years

La Mallorquina hosted local and international personalities during its more than eight decades in service.

La Mallorquina hosted local and international personalities during its more than eight decades in service.

The historic La Mallorquina restaurant in Old San Juan quietly shuttered its doors earlier this week, becoming the latest victim of a depressed economy that has brought down many eateries in the last five years.

News is my Business learned late Friday that the oldest restaurant with nonstop operation in the same location in Americas, closed its doors right after the San Sebastián festival.

“I was there during the San Sebastián festival, but I know they closed. They just decided to do it,” a source told this media outlet Friday.

The restaurant was founded in 1848, but operated as a family business since 1926. La Mallorquina is thought to be the first restaurant established in Puerto Rico and was included in an elite group of some of the oldest gastronomical establishments known in the New World.

On Friday, a heavy lock and chain remained steadfast on the restaurant’s iconic wooden doors.

The historic eatery located on San Justo Street played host to some of the world’s most notable guests, according to its website. The list included Brooke Shields, Nick Nolte, Rita Moreno, Orson Welles, Nat King Cole, Marc Anthony, Gloria Swanson, and Marcel Marceau. Puerto Rico’s first elected governor, Luis Muñoz Marín, was another of the famous people to eat at the restaurant.

“A scrapbook peppered with notes and signatures from frequent customers and world known rich and famous personalities who have visited the restaurant, chronicles the consistency in high quality food and service for over eight decades,” the eatery that featured a traditional Puerto Rican cuisine menu narrates on its website.

The island’s restaurant industry has taken a beating since the economy began to sour in 2006, forcing some to seek bankruptcy protection or closing its doors for good. This year witnessed the demise of Dunbar’s, La Patisserie, and as recent as last month, the closing of another long-standing eatery, El Canario, after 67 years in business.

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 29 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.


  1. David Auerbach January 23, 2012

    This is sad news, however, with all due respect, there are a few statements here that set off alarm bells: “Historians believe La Mallorquina was the first restaurant established in Puerto Rico and the oldest gastronomical establishment known in the New World.” In 1848? I’m not sure who the historians are or what they mean by gastronomical establishment but this is incorrect. There were mesones operating in New Spain (Mexico) as early as 1525. Even Delmonico’s is older than this, as is the Union Oyster House in Boston (still operating), and that’s in much younger North America. Havana’s oldest currently operating restaurant, La Zaragozana, opened in 1830, and there’s also this: http://travel.nytimes.com/travel/guides/north-america/canada/quebec/quebec-city/32945/aux-anciens-canadiens/restaurant-detail.html

    1. Michelle Kantrow January 23, 2012

      Point taken and noted. Thanks for your feedback!


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