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Alan García: "People in the villages also want war and get tired of always tasting the same things".

The young chef, who recently opened the Le Llamber-Manín Sucre ice cream parlor in Cangas de Narcea (Asturias), assures that in the village the romantic part is often more important than the economic one.

15 Dec 2021

In the village, the romantic part is sometimes more important than the economic one: expenses are reduced, but also the public and the income is lower.

More than an hour's drive from Oviedo, Cangas de Narcea (Asturias), surrounded by forest and mountains, has barely 13,000 inhabitants. And it is here that the Le Llamber-Manín Sucre ice cream parlor, which opened its doors last July, is located. 

It is run by Alan García, the third generation of a family of bakers and with knowledge of pastry making, who has wanted this establishment to "return to the village, return to the roots, return to where we were born".

1.- What are the advantages and disadvantages of working in a rural environment?

I think the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. The stimuli are very close to the product and that is where it all begins. Stimuli of the season, of seeing where the raw material comes from and how it is worked, of admiration for the farmer and, above all, of getting to know your client very well.

The disadvantages are that, although it seems or is a cheaper space, at the same time it is more difficult to undertake, to access some basic and necessary resources nowadays, such as the Internet. 

2.- What are the keys to be popular and attract people from other nearby towns?

I think that popularity is marked by the products. In our case, we always try to take care of the packaging and have beautiful premises, as a letter of introduction, but without a doubt, we know that what differentiates us is the product. I believe that people travel because they trust the brand and that the gastronomic experience will be complete. 

Social networks allow you to reach people close or not so close, but for people to repeat and keep moving, the difference between expectation and reality must be positive.

3.- Does having a chocolate-ice-cream shop in a town force you to adjust expenses and adapt to the tastes of a very specific clientele? Or, on the contrary, does it allow you to be creative and experiment? 

In our case, and this is something we are always grateful for, the customer is eager to try new things and lets himself go with the flow. People in the villages also want war, they need stimuli and they get tired of always tasting the same things. An example: this summer we debuted 10 flavors of ice cream, 9 of which were classics and one citrus, kalamansi. People surprised us, being the citricum one of the best sellers. It is also true that you have to gain confidence and never forget where you are.

4.- Does the fact that you are not in a big city cause you any problems when it comes to getting all the products you need? Do you have to place larger orders or order more in advance?

This is clearly one of our biggest drawbacks. You have to be organized because you know that what you don't order today, you won't be able to order again for another 15 days, which implies, in addition to organization, having more storage space. In the village everything is slower and the immediacy of the click does not exist. The suppliers who visit you are fewer and do it less frequently, however, the trust you get to have with them is greater; they care and try to make things as easy as possible.

5.- Do factors such as the weather influence normal functioning? 

It influences and can be a determining factor for a day's sales. Snow, wind or rain hit us hard every winter. When it snows or there is a landslide, the roads are cut off; or when a tree falls on a cable because of the wind, for example, we can go for days without electricity using generators. The rural world is not valid for people who do not know how to face these setbacks that, logically, in the city you will never live them and, if you live them, they do not depend on you; here, if a tree falls and cuts the road or it snows and it is covered, the ones in charge of solving this type of problems are, many times, the inhabitants and neighbors themselves.

6.- What message would you give to all those colleagues who want to settle in a town but have not yet taken the step? 

That they do it, as long as they have passion. Passion to undertake and to know that not everything is going to be numbers. In the village, the romantic side is often more important than the economic side: expenses are reduced, but so is the public and income is lower. Here you can work in good conditions, but you have to be clear that in order to establish a business you also have to work hard and know how to give up certain resources. The village requires passion and dedication, but what it offers you is unique.