How to survive as a restaurateur in Mallorca

Hamlet, creator of Saranna Café & Bar talks of natural selection in the gastronomic sector

Hamlet Ramirez

Already with a name like Hamlet, questions arise. It is a rare name for a Cuban with Mallorquín roots. After just a short conversation with the management consultant, he opens up about human values, long journeys, rich knowledge and fine intellect. His childhood memories of his parents’ house in Havana are described as “three stately halls with bookcases right up to the ceiling”. Now the name makes a little more sense.

Today Hamlet lives with his family on Mallorca and is a successful management consultant for restaurants and luxury hotels with over twenty-five years of experience. His clients include the crème de la crème of the hotel industry, such as the Gran Hotel Son Net on Mallorca, Hamacher Hotels and Resorts in Germany and the Breathe Banús in Marbella. “I live at the airport but do try to spend as much time as possible on Mallorca and with my family.”

He discovered gastronomy and the hotel business by chance when he had to move as a student to another part of Cuba due to “political circumstances.” This meant he had to change university and his field of study from electrical engineering to hotel business. The young Hamlet completed his practical training at the Hotel Nacional de Cuba, the most renowned hotel in Havana where stars such as Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra and Al Capone were frequent visitors. Hamlet breaks into a mischievous smile. “It was a time that shaped me and prepared me for the future. Hotel training is strict, structured and trains you not only professionally but socially. Ambition, determination and unwavering curiosity drove me on.” With a leading position on the cruise ship AIDA, Hamlet then left Cuba for the Caribbean islands. “The time on the AIDA was the cherry on top of my career, the training virtually became a part of my DNA”, he laughs. “I now strive to pass this on to my team and customers.”

Saranna Café & Gastrobar

After working in management at the Hotel Finca Cortesín (considered Spain’s best hotel), the Hotel Amigo in Brussels and the Hotel Jumeirah in Sóller, he decided to change course during a stay in Luxembourg and become a self-employed consultant. With resounding success, it felt only logical that he open his own restaurant. “For years I worked out concepts for others, so I just wanted to start my own project.” He sees the Saranna Café & Gastrobar in Palma as his hobby but with the highest of expectations. “My customers eat like my sons,” he says, insisting that top quality, local food at fair prices is at the heart of his philosophy.

“Mallorca is saturated in the truest sense of the word”, he says, describing the local situation. “Especially in the gastronomy scene, there is a drastic oversupply which results in a kind-of natural selection. Only the best survive.” Understandable given that Greece, Turkey and Tunisia are popular with holiday-makers again, putting more pressure on Mallorca. Hamlet smiles. It is a challenge he happily accepts. “It is a matter of reinventing oneself and offering a quality that does justice to Mallorca. First class food and service are the surest way to success.” Particularly on a small island, the market here is more intense, which means that quality can fluctuate. However, Hamlet is not one to give in easily. “The market might decide what is ‘high quality’, but we can determine it. Excellent service is quality, but sustainability and good corporate management are essential too – especially in the high-end sector.”

Our conversation turns to society and Hamlet is notably passionate. “As an entrepreneur, we have a social responsibility. When we focus on sustainability and quality, politics must follow.” He refers to the situation in his own team. “Human and social skills keep the wheel turning. There should be a constant communication and flow of ideas.” Over time, Hamlet has developed a kind-of “sixth sense for people” which is why he hopes his team can continue to grow and develop as they move forward in their professions.

“A person who is not socially sensitive will never become a good businessman in the 21st century,” Hamlet says, with conviction. “Gastronomy is art, which you carefully design with natural products. The only difference is, you’ll eat it up afterwards.”

Photos by Estefanía Durán

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Address details

Saranna Cafe & Gastrobar

C/ Forn de l’Olivera, 4, Palma

Dr. Helen Cummins is a lifestyle editor, marketeer and successful entrepreneur, who has lived and worked in Palma de Mallorca for the past 20 years. She launched in 2003 which has grown into one of the island’s largest websites with over 6 million visits per annum.

The website is a collection of all the things Helen values since moving to the island, running abcMallorca Digital Media and creating an idyllic life in Son Vida with her husband Georg and daughter Eva.

Slow Living Mallorca is what sits at the heart of the hc/ website, which aims to inspire you to slow down and appreciate the Mediterranean lifestyle. Alongside her editorial team, Helen handpicks the recommended businesses showcased here that adhere to SLOW: Sustainable, Local, Organic and made with Love.