For over 150 years, located in the magnificent Recoleta neighborhood, where there were only a few houses (no mansions or small palaces), Recollects monks convent and a beautiful church next to which you could find helpless people cadavers resting in peace. Few meters away, on the slopes over the River Plate, there were parked wagons to take elite classes from the South of the city, San Telmo, to their large summer fields, in those days, remotely located: Olivos, San Fernando or El Tigre. Between laundry women hubbub and cutler’s fighting, there was a building that, according to engravings of that time, it could have been the first food place in the area, the same place where you can find today La Biela.
Historical Coffee House La Biela – Recoleta’s Historical Coffee Houses
But le tus travel a little longer in time. In 1732 there was nothing there. Only some scattered country houses where you could arrive through the Long Street, which has nothing to do with today’s elegant Quintana Avenue. In those houses and with quick knives on their hands, you could find recollect monks, next to the Nuestra Señora del Pilar Church, which was finished in October of that year.
Cemetery was managed by the Church, and as part of a perfect analogy, with the passing of time it was socially upgraded as well as the neighborhood, until it became one of the most traditional cemeteries of Buenos Aires. In 1810, while May Revolution was taking place in front of the Town Hall, the lands which today are part of La Biela were from the Old Viceroy (popularly known as “Virreina Vieja”), Doña Rafaela de Vera y Pintado, widow of Joaquín del Pino, who was River Plate Viceroy between 1801 and 1804. Virreina Vieja occupied these lands until she died in 1816, according to the nameplate on the front of the coffee house.
Time went by. The pest caused the exodus from San Telmo neighborhood to La Recoleta. But still in that time, surrounding the cemetery, which was beginning to lodge the most distinguished part of the society, the neighborhood kept its appearance of long tenement houses for men and women of doubted reputation. On the streets, gypsies, guitar players, pimps and thieves continued putting up tremendous battles until mid XX’s century-
From "Vasco" Michelena’s bodega to the vain La Biela Coffee House many years has gone by, and this corner was witness and stage of a significant part of the living history of Buenos Aires. That minuscule bar with a small sidewalk with only 18 tables, which was baptized by its Spanish owner “La Viridita” has been left far behind. And also “Aerobar”, name it received for some years in honor to civil pilots who lived across the street.
Towards 1950 history turns around once more. Back then, a fun-loving group of speed lovers, after tiring out other people’s patient, were expelled from the place they frequented. So they had the great idea to clear the awkward moment with a good car race “and looked for a new place to hang out”. Adventure was short for one of them because the connecting rod (BIELA in spanish) of his car said stop in the corner of Junin and Quintana streets. "Bitito" Mieres get off his car and gathered his mates, Jorge Malbran, Ernesto Torquinst, and others, settling in this small bar they baptized as "LA BIELA FUNDIDA" first (molten connecting rod in English), and then just "LA BIELA", name with which was world wide famous and that it became a copyright for car racing visitors.
The Argentine Sport Car Association (Asociación Argentina de Automóviles Sport in Spanish) had no headquarter, so they called La Biela “The Secretariat”. Then, successors of that first group as Charly Menditeguy, Rolo Alzaga, Eduardo Copello, Gastón Perkins and many others, were witnesses and leaders of the most terrifying fashion populating the sidewalks of Quintana, Ayacucho and Alvear: the so-called "PICADAS" (car races), noisy monster provoking adrenaline and curiosity during the sixties.
From then onwards, history is popularly known. Racing fashion is printed in La Biela’s walls and the place is visited by celebrities worldwide. Its tables have been visited by a huge number of tourists, politicians, businessmen, sportsmen and many others. Celebrities of the Royalty and Democratic power have visited the place, such as the Spanish Royalty and Premieres of several countries. Important writers as Adolfo Bioy Casares, Ernesto Sábato, Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortazar or singers as Joan Manuel Serrat, Joaquín Sabina, Facundo Cabral, Pérez Celis. Actors and actresses of all media. Fórmula 1 Drivers of all times, such as Jackie Stewart or Emerson Fitipaldi. Famous soccer players... Anyway, the list is endless.
Another bronze nameplate on the Entrance tells us that in 1999, La Biela was declared "Cultural Interest Place" by the Government of the City of Buenos Aires. Reasons are not needed. To what we have already said we can add pictures signed by José Foilán González or Clay Regazzonni, a drawing by Fabrizio Ferrari, grandson of "Commendatore" Enzo Ferrari, when he was a child, a canvas donated by the last descendant of Lamborghini family where you can see the most luxurious car of the brand, and more. The most recent examples is the visit of the famous movie director Francis Ford Coppola, whose first night out visiting Buenos Aires went to La Biela (Ambito Financiero newspaper, August 19th, 2003) and the words of actor Robert Duvall, which appeared in Clarin newspaper of August 24th 2003: "We always go to La Biela, it is my favorite place in the world. It is a great corner, the coffee, the waiters… "
Thus, time stops a little in the stressing Buenos Aires when we sit in one of these tables and enjoy the excellent food in La Biela, embraced by its living history which calls us, surrounds us and delights us.