When New York City’s much-loved Spanish restaurant, La Nacional, closed in 2016 many Gothamites were devastated. Then something interesting happened. When the former restauranteur’s lease expired it was taken over by the Spanish Benevolent Society, one of what used to be many societies and ethno-specific organizations in NYC. Such organizations offered an enveloping wing of protection and care for immigrants, helping them to find jobs and assisting them in times of crisis. In fact, the Society still does today.
The Society, which has been in existence for more than a century, has its digs above the now newly opened La Nacional. In a sense, the Society’s commitment to using the restaurant to introduce modern regional Spanish cuisine to the area is a form of repayment, as it was the restaurant that kept the Society alive when, as the new Executive Director of “La Nacional” puts it, “anyone under the age of 40 wanted nothing to do with the Society.
- La Nacional, a popular Spanish restaurant, recently reopened after a two year closure to remodel.
- The restaurant’s new opening brings new owners as well. The Spanish Benevolent Society now oversees the popular dining spot.
- The new management is committed to creating a menu using fresh local produce and fish.
“Benevolent societies and ethnic clubs used to be much more common in New York, as places where immigrants could find a community and get job connections. The Spanish Benevolent Society still helps young Spanish immigrants find jobs in the restaurant industry, and it has a close connection to the Spanish consulate.”