Aklesia Dawit, 21, dines in a frenzy at one of her favorite restaurants in Addis, named after the movie she ever loved so dear. “Among my favorite things in the whole wide world are dining out and watching episodes of Money Heist, even for the 100th time over. That is the main reason that urged me to be one of the loyal customers of this restaurant,” She muses.
Named after the famous and trendy soundtrack of the movie Money Heist, Bella Ciao Chicken is now a trending restaurant located at Bole bridge a.k.a “Bole Dildiy”. The restaurant’s interior design is adorned with themes from Money Heist. The waiters and waitresses wear the popular jumpsuit and mask of the movie’s actors, making customers feel as if they are present in a simulated ‘The Royal Mint of Spain’, the main setting of the movie.
Money Heist, the Netflix TV series, is one of the most successful series movies whose reach and influence are felt everywhere in every compass corner of the globe. “Money Heist is a show that transcended the boundaries to become one of the most popular, most loved, and most-watched shows across the world. The show hit the screens in 2017 and people haven’t stopped talking about it since then,” writes City Spidey, an entertainment website.
As elsewhere in the world, the movie’s popularity and hype have also reached Addis Ababa. A number of movie aficionados have watched Money Heist voraciously. Biniam, the owner of Trios Movies, a renowned movie shop in the city, says that almost 80-90% of movie lovers have watched Money Heist. “Its popularity lies in its story flow which is full of action and risky heist drama, the kind of genre the Ethiopian audience often prefers.”
Apart from its viral recognition, Money Heist has become a striking cultural phenomenon. It basically relates a story of injustice and corrupt systems that almost all countries in the world suffer from. This thematic element of rebellion in the movie is the ideal to which everyone in the world is inclined to resort. “To an audience living in a poor, corrupt, and unjust country like Ethiopia the thought of rebellion and seeking justice becomes much more appealing to,” says Dawit, who calls himself an ardent fan of Money Heist and a movie production professional.
“Because it has spurred the feeling of indignation people have long held inside, they tend to use every means at their disposal to dignify and praise the movie. You can see cars and even small tricycle Bajajs posting the movie’s stickers and posters, and hear “Bella Ciao” ringtones from fan’s phones. Money Heist has simply become an unforgettable entertainment fad,” he explains.
Back at Bella Ciao Chicken, beyond dining out at the restaurant, what seems to enslave the customers is the fantasy of being in a place where the spirit of Money Heist hovers around. Haron Tessema, another frequenter of the place says, “Here, I find the glitz and glamor of Money Heist decorations that'll transport me right into La Casa de Papel. The famous quotes of the characters from the movie, the foods named after the characters, and the popular red jumpsuit worn by the waiters and waitresses make me sit and pretend to be on set as one of the cast members in the movie.”
The restaurant’s customization to Money Heist’s theme, favorited by its customers, would seem strange and unagreeable to some who haven’t seen and heard of the movie’s charm.
“At the beginning, we were a bit challenged due to the negative comments coming from people who have no idea about the movie,” says Yohannes Getachew, co-founder and General Manager of Bella Ciao Chicken “The main color of the theme being red and black coupled with the mask faced waitresses and waiters looked a little scary to those who even went far to label us as illuminatis and alike.”
According to the manager, even though the restaurant faced negative comments due to its strangeness at first glance, the eventual recognition it is obtaining from fans is making the restaurant to be loved by many, especially teenagers and adults in their twenties and mid-thirties.
Apart from the restaurant’s customization, some foods are also named with entities in the movie. The most loved and special burger of the restaurant is named ‘El Professor burger’ after the lead character of the movie.
The co-founder told Addis Zeybe that he and his friends decided to open the restaurant, instigated by the thought of introducing a new color and creative approach to the industry, with the idea of opening food shops with the name and theme of famous television shows.
Money Heist’s hoopla that suddenly overtook the entertainment world has even left the movie producers and actors in awe
Miguel Herrán, the actor behind Rio, a boyish hacker and Tokyo’s love interest, told EQ, an online lifestyle magazine that he watched his Instagram followers tick-tick-tick up from 50,000 to 1 million over the course of a 45-minute car ride.
Alex Pina, Money Heist’s Spanish producer tells EQ magazine that 65 million households tuned into season four soon after its release. “If you made an autonomous Republic of Money Heist Watchers, it would be the 23rd most populous country in the world, sandwiched between the United Kingdom and Tanzania.”
“Pina recalls driving through Italy with the actors shortly after fans started losing their minds. ‘People were running after us like we were the Rolling Stones. We thought: ‘The world is upside down. What’s happening?’”
Money Heist, dubbed in English by Netflix from the Spanish ‘La casa de papel’ meaning ‘the House of Paper’ is a Spanish heist crime drama television series, that imparts the story of two long-drawn robberies led by a Professor, one at the Royal Mint of Spain and one at the Bank of Spain.
Money Heist continues its fervor as its Season Five has been released recently on Sep 3, and Bella Ciao Chicken restaurant in Addis would expect new customers and movie fans at its miniature of The Royal Mint of Spain when the fanfare of the movie goes on.