A Bleak Beginning

A rather dismal start to the year. Tomba Lobos, the excellent restaurant that we have in Portalegre, closed its doors just before Christmas and is not going to re-open. The owner and chef, José Júlio Vintém, has left for Recife in Brasil. He says on a blog it is not a bankruptcy and that he has left no debts but he certainly owes us (and others) money. It is sad that Portalegre cannot support a restaurant of this calibre but it is a reflection of the times that we live in. Gemelli, a well known restaurant near the parliament building  in Lisbon, has also closed and there are bankruptcies all over the country. I know of a local wine distributor in severe financial difficulties, three nearby hotels that have closed and a number of wine producers who are now in the hands of the banks. With emigration from Portugal up by 85% last year I fear that Portugal is losing much of its best talent, just as it did in the early 1970s when there was mass emigration to avoid conscription to the colonial wars. The Bank of Portugal predicts that the economy will contract by another 2% this year and that a further 80,000 jobs will be lost. The outlook is bleak.