Ibiza is an island that’s built on the wanders of storytelling. It exists in a kind of mythical bubble, in which its status has been constructed from layer upon layer of tales shared, regaled and conjured. But while messages of its current magic continue to soar among winds across the world, few people realise the white isle’s richly diverse heritage. Fought over for centuries by the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans and more, it’s always been home to a mishmash of religions, nationalities and cultures, all of which have fed into the liberal and tolerant melting pot it is today.
All of these elements are felt palpably within the walls of Cana Pepeta, our beautiful Ibiza restaurant that resides near the tiny hamlet of San Lorenzo in the north of the island. It sits among winding caminos and vibrant, copper-soiled fields, and at around 200 years old, it’s remained constant in an ever-evolving environment. Indeed, our humble finca, with its lime whitewashed walls, juniper-beamed ceilings, and ancient trees jutting through the courtyard has born witness to changes in landscape, people, and trends — a silent observer in an otherwise cacophonous world, a haven among the confusion.
Nevertheless, that’s not to say that it hasn’t experienced its fair share of change over the years. Today, our tiny Ibiza microcosm is an open space for locals and internationals to intermingle, but prior to that it’s had myriad guises, passing through many generations of Ibicencos along the way. Most recently, it belonged to a 66-year old local farmer named Pedro Ferrer Guasch, who was born and grew up in the building. He spent his childhood years scampering around the local countryside, a privilege that instilled in him a deep respect for the land, animals, and everything that roamed among it. As an adult, he went on to procure the building from its previous owner, a woman named Pepeta, who was also born there. She lived in the lower building, long before the upper extension was built around 90 years ago, spending her days cooking.
It’s after Pepeta, of course, that we named our Ibiza restaurant back when we took over in 2019. It was already a restaurant at this point, and had been since the very early ‘90s. But what we were thrilled to discover was the pivotal role it’s always played among the community, masquerading in lots of different forms from decade to decade. Its location on the road between San Juan and Ibiza made it the perfect spot for selling foodstuffs, for instance, and that’s why Can Pepet de n’Andreu (a local family estate) first decided to buy the property. Rabbits, potatoes, almonds, every imaginable local fare was bought and sold at the roadside. On Fridays, sheep were slaughtered in what’s now the car park, a tradition that fed many local families.
In later years, when the property was in the hands of Pedro’s family and his mother sadly died, his father rented out the space and it was turned into a store selling groceries, postage stamps, and tobacco. That is, until they were forced to close it by law. Back then, only soldiers who’d been wounded in the civil war were permitted to sell tobacco, an idiosyncratic rule that forced the selling of the substance underground. Get him on a talkative day and Pedro waxes lyrical for hours about his father’s subsequent past as a bandido, recounting tales of how he illegally traded tobacco and coffee with his pals, all with a sly wink and a mischievous grin plastered on his face.
We bear this knowledge of the building’s past with enormous gratitude, not least for the lives that came and went within it, but also for the wonderful stories that unfurled within its walls. We cherish the sense of deep-rooted heritage and we apply an awareness of it to everything we do, taking time, care, and attention to uphold the sense of importance it represents for the local community. By respecting the past, we can create a meaningful present — one that’s full of great food, conversation and culture. Come and be a part of it.