Bar Pintxos: How one man's Spanish dream saved his mental health

Anthony Smith suffered with his mental health throughout the first lockdown in 2020, but it was his business dream that saved him as Bar Pintxos came to fruition.
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Bar Pintxos, a Spanish tapas bar that sits in Preston city centre is owned and run by Anthony Smith aged 46. The Preston-born and bred entrepreneur opened up to The Post as part of our Spend Lancashire campaign to share the story behind Bar Pintxos and how important the independent business he owns is to him and his staff.

Boasting a traditional Spanish theme throughout, Anthony utilised his first skills taught from working with Spanish chefs as a young lad to design his menu and set the style for Bar Pintxos. He said: “I messed up my time at school because I spent all my time working in kitchens. I worked with a lot of Spaniards and Italians and really enjoyed it. I was trained by some incredible people."

However, hospitality wasn’t the original road Anthony followed. He set up his first finance business with his wife in 2007 during the recession. He said: “My wife cheekily asked me to take a week off work for some ‘quiet time’, but as a successful saleswoman she sold the idea of a new business.”

Owner of Bar Pintxos Anthony Smith. Photo: Kelvin StuttardOwner of Bar Pintxos Anthony Smith. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard
Owner of Bar Pintxos Anthony Smith. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard

As a proud and successful entrepreneur, Anthony went on to sell the company he and his wife initially set up. But with his wife still tied up with the business that the couple had founded, Anthony arrived at an isolated, loose end.

He said: “I found myself in a bit of a hole, my kids were at school and my wife was still working within the business. I found myself in a situation where in the third lockdown I can genuinely understand when people that achieved a certain level of success, go from that to nothing and really struggle.

"I think in 46 years of life I’ve never considered myself to struggle with any mental health issues but it was the worst time of my life. Through lockdown the isolation was harsh. When people speak about the business they don’t prepare you for the exit journey and when people stop calling your name, that silence is deafening.”

Deciding it was time for a new venture, Anthony honed in on the passion he has for Spanish cuisine and Bar Pintxos was born.

Exterior of Bar Pintxos in Preston. Photo: Kelvin StuttardExterior of Bar Pintxos in Preston. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard
Exterior of Bar Pintxos in Preston. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard

He said: “The only thing I knew how to do was catering when I sold the business, so we bought the building, stripped it out, and redecorated. I really enjoyed creating the individuality of Bar Pintxos and it has just taken off from there really. It has been incredibly difficult and there have been a lot of challenges but Bar Pintxos has saved me in a mental sense and I don’t know what I’d do without it.

“You’re never gonna please everyone out there, but if you just keep focused on what you want to do and be true to your visions and what your heart tells you then you will inevitably bear the fruits of that vision.”