The butcher shop of more than a century of La Riera that closes for the light

The closure of small businesses in towns and cities is a constant trickle caused by competition from large stores and distribution centers. Now we know that a butcher shop, with more than a century of existence, closes in La Riera de Gaià (Tarragonès). Cal Pastor, name of all life, lowers the blind, not because it succumbed to the large surfaces, because of the price war, nor because of a lack of customers. The cause is another war: the one that has led to an exorbitant rise in electricity and gas bills.

Joan Casas Torras, fourth generation of the Cal Pastor saga, is the one who has had to take, despite himself, the drastic decision to put an end to the family business. "The situation had become economically unsustainable," laments Joan. He argues that "we have gone from paying 300 euros a month to 900, in the electricity bill and from 100 to 200 euros a month for gas." “Since the beginning of the year, when the hair-raising rise in energy, I have had to put close to 6,000 euros out of my pocket to cover consumption expenses,” admits the butcher.

Joan Casas took over the business in 2019 when his father, Jaume Casas Sordé (the mayor of La Riera de Gaià) handed it over to him upon reaching retirement age. Jaume assures that he did not hesitate to advise his son to "lower the blind", despite the fact that "it hurts my soul, but we must be pragmatic in the face of the sad reality."

The electricity bill has gone from 300 euros a month to 900, and gas from 100 to 200

Father and son have a loyal clientele from the town and surrounding towns, including Tarragona, a public that has deeply regretted the closure. They had clients with whom to guarantee continuity. However, to support energy costs and maintain a minimum profit margin, "it would be necessary to double sales or increase the price of meat, which is unfeasible for obvious reasons of competitiveness," Joan reasons.

Cal Pastor was open on Thursday mornings, Fridays and Saturdays until noon. However, "the two cameras do not stop working 365 days a year, whether it is for a single lamb or if they are full and hence the problem," says Jaume Casas.

It was 1919 when Joan Casas Martí, a rancher from La Riera, bought the house at 1 Calle Mayor, consolidating a business there that had started in another location in the town. Joan had two more brothers: Anton and Bartomeu. Since Joan Casas Martí had no children, he entrusted the butcher shop business to his nephew, Bartomeu Casas Blanch, son of Bartomeu Casas Martí, who was the one who took the flock of lambs to graze. And here, we already have the Cal Pastor brand that has survived to this day.

At first they only sold beef. food, but in the 60s of the last century, they incorporated the sale of chickens. Being the owner, Bartomeu Casas Blanch, pork and processed meats (sausage, sausage, sobrassada...), as well as beef. Casas Blanch bought some rustic farms to produce alfalfa and corn as fodder for cattle, at a time when they had corrals, a pigsty and a dairy. Later, by dispensing with cattle, the land was used for the cultivation of hazelnuts.

Jaume Casas Sordé at a certain time exploited the business supported by his sister Roser and brother Bartomeu. Jaume is reluctant to dismantle the butcher shop and the workshop, although he does not rule out renting the premises if the opportunity arises. And Joan, the fourth of the generation of butchers, who says she likes the job, wants to maintain a thread of hope in case a fairer configuration of the price of energy is achieved, before finally hanging up her apron.

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