In his book Night Flight, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry wrote about Richmond, a writers’ café in Buenos Aires, Argentina.A relaxing place where, comfortably installed in one of the Chesterfied armchairs on the ground floor, the writer and pilot liked to sit and chat to his friend and fellow-pilot Jean Mermoz.
In fact, this was his local café, since he lived not far away in “a charming small furnished flat”, which he mentions in one of his letters to his mother.
He was by no means the café’s only famous patron, however; other habitués included Jorge Louis Borges, Julio Cortazar and Graham Green.
Imagine, then, the consternation in Buenos Aires on 14 August when the café, which first opened its doors in 1917, closed down to make way for a sports footwear store. Outraged citizens of Argentina’s capital were quick to demonstrate against a decision that robbed them of one of their city’s legendary venues.
The justice system came to the rescue. On 26 August, after the furniture and period wood panelling had already been removed from the listed building, judge Fernando Lima ordered their restoration. Police officers were even posted outside the café under orders to “protect the architectural and furnishing heritage”.