Typically, when you leave a café after enjoying your coffee, crepe, or delicious potato tapa with mojo sauce, your attention is usually focused on the drink’s price. However, if you happen to take a moment to examine the header of the receipt at Pianeta Espresso, the well-known café on Calle Teobaldo Power near the Parliament building, you’ll be in for quite a surprise. It reads “Construcciones y Reformas M. Bernabe SL.” This intriguing fact stems from 25 years ago – the same duration that the café recently marked its 25th anniversary. Precisely on July 7th, to be exact.
Back then, the Martínez brothers (Enrique, David, and Carlos) made the decision to diversify their construction company’s ventures, leading to the establishment of a franchise for a renowned creperie and café brand in the heart of Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
Overseeing the café’s financial matters is Enrique Martínez, amidst a staff of eight who function more like a close-knit family. They even celebrate employees’ birthdays together, like the recent celebration for María Eugenia, who, during an interview with DIARIO DE AVISOS, was sharing cake with colleagues and long-standing patrons.
Recalling the inception of the Pianeta adventure, Enrique, the finance manager, recalls its origins in Valencia, where they encountered the franchisee offering this brand. “We’re talking about 1998 when almost no one in Santa Cruz knew what franchising meant in the realm of catering…”. Although they had been initially drawn to the brand for its café aspect, it had already incorporated crepes into its menu by the time they visited. “Truthfully, we hadn’t planned on introducing cuisine, but it piqued our interest. Entering the franchise meant complying with their conditions,” Enrique highlights.
Reflecting on those early years, when cars still passed by the café’s door on a non-pedestrian street, Enrique notes that the space fulfilled the requirements they were seeking, which led to them taking it over. Serendipitously, fortune smiled upon this decision, as “only a year later, the Urban Plan came into play, pedestrianizing the entire area.”
He acknowledges that luck has been on their side since that initial step, and everything has flowed seamlessly, despite “requiring a lot of hard work and countless hours,” considering the physically demanding nature of the job. Their perspective is always directed toward sustaining their journey for years to come.
Enrique reveals that they’ve operated independently for quite some time since “the franchise ultimately went bankrupt.” However, “we retained the name and even possess the rights to it.” He notes that there’s now only one Pianeta Espresso on the mainland, which hasn’t yet affected them. As a result, they haven’t pursued the use of the brand, according to the eldest of the Martínez brothers.
What commenced as a business diversification strategy has also evolved into a lifeline for their construction company, which faced the brunt of the 2008 financial crisis. “The construction office continued with the few projects that came our way, while my brothers and I concentrated our efforts here.” The combined efforts of the siblings, as Enrique candidly shares, “helped propel the café forward.”
Pianeta Espresso: a secret to a sustainable business
When asked about the secret to sustaining a business for 25 years in an environment where enterprises tend to open and close in rapid succession, Enrique emphasizes, “It’s all about how we treat our staff. It’s what garners the most praise in reviews.” He continues, “We maintain a positive work atmosphere, and while it’s natural for employees to come and go, we’ve always upheld a customer-friendly team.”
Their fiercely loyal patrons have been witnesses to the Martínez family’s journey, witnessing the creperie’s evolution into its current tapas-focused menu, which allows them to maintain a competitive edge against their neighboring establishments by upholding the highest quality standards.