A sentimental legacy: the love stories that also serve to restore Confitería del Molino

Renovating a building goes beyond fixing ceilings or painting walls, it also assesses intangible heritage of iconic sites such as Confitería del Molino in front of the National Congress, an icon of Buenos Aires and witness to more than a century of Argentine history. Those who have passed through its luxurious rooms today recall with excitement the bar’s golden days. They do this by approaching the corner of Rivadavia and Callao avenues with old photos of family celebrations held inside the premises at different times.

The Art Nouveau building, opened in 1912, was the work of Frances Gianotti, but since 1997 it has been in ruins for two decades. At the end of the year, the renovation works would be completed and then the confectionery service would be put out to tender..

As part of the restoration tasks, on the 19th a group of former employees and former customers were called to bring their albums closer to celebrate Photography Day. In addition, a record of the photographs was made to check for missing parts in the remodeling process, as happened with the winged lions and the dome’s stained glass windows. These images show the intimacy of dating, from weddings to the young men’s surprise when they one day stumble upon Madonna filming a video in the ballroom.

One of those stories is that of Alicia and Jose Luis, who have been together for 50 years. They are retired and arrive at the patisserie with photos from their 1974 wedding reception on the first floor of the bar. “The ceremony was at the Church of the Sacred Heart of Barakas. We were looking for a pastry shop with a convenient location for the guests”, Alicia remembers about that moment when she was 19 years old. “I really liked Del Molino. When I got home I told dad and he accepted. It was a great place, she told us,” she confirms as she shows off a photo of herself in a wide white hat alongside her husband, dressed in a shiny blue jacket, as they cut the wedding cake. “We had to keep the service by paying everything in advance with a promissory note. However, we were afraid that they would not fulfill the contract. The situation in the country was not good”, he recalls. However, the party went according to plan.

Alicia and Jose Luis celebrate their wedding in 1974Tenderness

Comparing the restoration with past images, Alicia says: “Everything is as before, beauty as if taken from a picture of Vienna or Switzerland, with shiny wooden floors.” At Del Molino, the tasks of restoration from an architectural point of view are carried out in parallel with the rescue of the intangible inheritance. That is, in search of photos, such as those of the wedding of Alicia and Jose Luis, and of testimonies. Since 2018, there is a special team formed for this purpose and it is coordinated by Monica Capano.

More and more people are showing interest in joining the project. Young Franco Rodríguez Amato is a history student. When he found out in 2019 that the improvement of the patisserie had started, he told his family because his grandparents Olga Zafaroni and Enrique Gufanti celebrated their wedding there in 1961. Rodriguez Amato and his parents went to the bar with the wedding album . “It was a very big and important ceremony, they occupied the hall and the annex. There were even tables on the balcony overlooking the Plaza del Congreso.

In 1961, Olga Zafaroni and Enrique Guffanti celebrated their wedding reception at Confitería Del Molino
In 1961, Olga Zafaroni and Enrique Guffanti celebrated their wedding reception at Confitería Del MolinoTenderness

The guests were from his grandfather’s parents’ side, members of the Society of Ironworkers, and from his wife’s side, who was involved in woodworking, the grandson says proudly. From what he was able to research, the orchestra was not playing that day because a family member had recently passed away. The dinner, as you can see from the photos, was substantial, with luxurious service and first-class tableware. “My grandparents are no longer here, but luckily today I have the wonderful feeling of rediscovering a space that has great sentimental value for them,” says the young man.

Olga Zafaroni with her guests
Olga Zafaroni with her guestsTenderness

In Del Molino in the 1980s, Ana Leon and Camilo Dominguez began a long love story. However, due to various circumstances, the couple was able to live together only four years ago. She worked as a saleswoman in the chocolate shop and he as a waiter in the saloon. They worked until the patisserie closed in 1997.

Anna is surprised by the great progress she has seen this year compared to last year in terms of recovery. It says that Camilo attended Madonna when she came to town to shoot To be avoided. The singer fell in love with Confitería del Molino and chose it for the video of the song “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore”. “He also took care of the actress. In fact, every hour he had to change the ration of fruit and water, the only thing he consumed. Before entering with the tray, he asked permission from his bodyguard”, he says.

Ana Leon and Camilo Dominguez were employees at Del Molino
Ana Leon and Camilo Dominguez were employees at Del Molino

She worked in various positions in confectionery. His first client was the humorist Mario Sapag. It was also attended by actor Osvaldo Miranda, presenters Hector Larrea and Antonio Carrizo, and singer Armando Manzanero, who bought a brown glass box. He asked to be gift-wrapped and handed to a young woman at one of the tables, he recalled.

“It was never well known because in that year [1997] They closed for vacation and never opened again. I have the best memories of the owners, Roccatagliata. They worked alongside us during the holidays when we couldn’t make it,” he says.

Louis Goni was employed during the last period, between 1992 and 1994. He went from cashier and room control to cashier in the new gastronomic offer, the fast food sector. “I studied engineering with Paula Rocataliata, daughter of the owners. They lived in the neighboring building, on Rivadavia,” he recalls. In the 1990s, Paola’s father, Edgardo, traveled to Miami, where he learned about fast food and wanted to implement it in confectionery. “We were a group of guys who served as a hamburger chain, with striped uniforms,” ​​says the engineer, who one day led a protest about non-payment. “One time we didn’t raise the blind and then they started paying us exactly like clockwork,” he adds.

In the 1990s, the pastry shop had a fast food section
In the 1990s, the pastry shop had a fast food sectionTenderness

You can bring pictures or objects to form part of the museum that will be installed in the building. The material can be sent through official networks (Instagram, Twitter and Facebook) @delmolinookor via email at info@delmolino.com.ar

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