Nombres propios

This was the magical underwater restaurant that Steven Spielberg opened in the 90s

The filmmaker had three themed restaurants called ‘Dive!’ that dived every 45 minutes.

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Steven Spielberg, beyond being a successful film director who has taken memorable films such as ‘E.T’, ‘Jaws’ or the adventures of Indiana Jones to the top of the film world, directed other projects that, however, would end up sinking completely. And that was his crazy Dive! restaurant in the form of a submarine.

The iconic filmmaker would bring the magic of science fiction to real life, diving into the depths of the ocean to bring to the surface a themed restaurant that synchronised with the fashion for this type of gastronomic enclave in the mid-1990s.

Spielberg teamed up with Jeffrey Katzenberg and Steven Wynn to open this ode to underwater exploration that he had been fascinated by since he was a child. One of his most ambitious projects to date, he invested $7 million with the idea of opening more than 60 restaurants around the world. Spoiler: he never succeeded.

And the fact is that they only materialised three in the whole world, and one of them was in Barcelona. The first one, he would ‘tie it up’ in 1994 in the Century City shopping district in Los Angeles, right next to an AMC multiplex. This restaurant, which was infused with the director’s cinematic spirit, would be frequented by stars such as Rob Reiner, the Olsen twins and Henry Winkler, attracted by the design of its yellow submarine with a control tower and a stainless steel interior with portholes and torpedo-shaped seats.

It even had a periscope that allowed the crew to look outside. Every 45 minutes a series of flashing lights were switched on and the portholes were filled with water so that diners could experience the simulation of being submerged in the ocean. A whole sequence of sensations and visual stimuli were served on the same menu together with the culinary proposal of the celebrated chef Michael Northern.

Spilberg would open the second location of his restaurant Dive! in the Fashion Show shopping centre, while the third would be anchored in Barcelona’s Maremagnum in April 1996. Very little is remembered about the latter, except that it would be managed by Emilio Rodríguez Villar, one of the most important hotel businessmen in the post-Olympic city. In just two years, the Barcelona submarine was shipwrecked.

By 1999 all the restaurants would have gone under. The sensory overload it subjected its diners to with all the memorabilia, souvenirs and eccentric decor overshadowed its apparently decadent food, according to critics. Of this sort of culinary theatre, they commented that the preparations were overdone, and that, in general, nothing of what was on offer was to be commended. Beyond that, the closure was also induced by the global crisis of theme restaurants at the turn of the century.

After all, the combination of mediocre food and poor product sales led to the failure of all his Dive! underwater restaurants. And even if his Las Vegas establishment was more successful, it would not be able to stay afloat either.