My friend is moving to Malaga in the south of Spain. Her 6-year-old daughter is sad for two reasons:
1) She will miss her friends from Castelldefels.
2) There is no Polleria* Toñi in Malaga.
Toñi’s has been around Castelldefels since 1991. The shop is named after its extraordinary owner, Antonia Cano (Toñi) who runs it with her husband Vicente Fernández. Toñi has been working as a butcher since she was 14 years old. "Our mission is simple" she says, "I prepare my products to the highest standard, as I would serve them to guests in my own home."
It has been said that work is what you do for an hourly wage, but labor is what you do to achieve mastery. “Whatever I generate, it has to be perfect,” says Toñi. It's clear she has mastered the art of butchery.
For the first two years, it was only Toñi and her husband running everything. They worked from 4 in the morning until midnight, 6 days a week. After the birth of their son, they brought more people in to work with them. Their products include an assortment of chicken burgers with additions such as bacon, spinach, cheese, parsley, and onion. They also sell some pheasant, geese, quail, partridges, and beef products. Attracting clients was never a problem for Vicente and Toñi. She recalls her first day opening the shop in Castelldefels in 1991, she had 200 clients lined up out the door. They had to restock in the middle of the day, they hadn’t expected it to be an immediate success. They have been busy ever since.
Toñi is very perfectionist about her products. She also holds her employees to a high standard. It took time to build a reliable team. Over the years, she has found people with experience and good technique. One of her employees chimed in, "Working in the same industry in other pollerias*, it just doesn’t compare to working for Toñi, it’s another world in here.” Toñi is very pleased with the team she has now. It takes 8 people to keep this tiny shop running.
Restaurants have suffered a massive economic blow from COVID lockdowns. However, with more people cooking from home and restaurants closed, demand for Toñi’s products only went up. They had lines wrapping around the block to buy her chicken burgers during the most severe home lockdown in Spain in March and April of 2020. They opted for closing in the afternoons and only selling in the mornings to avoid coming into contact with too many people.
Vicente and Toñis son, Fernandez Cano will take over Toñi’s when his parents retire. He has grown up in the family business. Toñi says she looks forward to enjoying her life without the daily hustle and bustle of running a business. Vicente insisted that her top priority will be to love her husband. To this quip, she responded that they are 47 years married. I asked Toñi what piece of advice she would tell herself 30 years ago when she opened her business. Her reply: "I would tell myself, DO NOT open a business."
*A polleria is a butcher shop that focuses on preparation of pheasants.
Location: Carrer del Doctor Trueta, 5, 08860 Castelldefels
Phone number: 936 64 22 26