By Lindenberg Junior | Translation Edgar Lin
Having talked with some restaurateurs from Los Angeles and with others from Sao Paulo, adding up sure experience in this sector and summing my knowledge of marketing and media, I can say that restaurants over 15 years of existence could already be considered outstanding. Can you dare imagine how about the ones open for more than a century?
Certainly, besides good food (which is not synonym of expensive food) they offer pleasant ambience, a courteous service, and also an ingenuous marketing strategy. These four ingredients are fundamental to grow a customer base, and the three first ones, to obtain a loyal clientele for several years.
From the above mentioned restaurants credentials, I quote four that is established in Brazil and which have an important role on the Brazilian gourmet scenery. The Carlino from Sao Paulo was founded in 1881 and is named after the current owner. It closed in 2002 and later reopened in 2005. It serves typical Italian cuisine with some Brazilian appetizers. In Rio, the Café Lamas opened in 1874. Located in the Flamengo neighborhood and within several blocks from the Catete Palace (old headquarters that served as the Republic Presidential Palace), it is always crowded and serves breakfast until late night hours.
The Leite in Recife was founded in 1882 at a beach front kiosk and turned out to be one of the most exquisite of the “Brazilian Venice” (Recife “nickname”). It offers fresh sea food and a delicious bacalhau (codfish). The Gambrinus in Porto Alegre opened in 1889 and began operating as a bar. In 1960, they had difficulties and only in 1964, in full dictatorship, it took a deep breath with Portuguese menu. Nowadays, it is a landmark of the gaucho tourism.
In the USA, the Brazilian restaurants began to establish their roots in the 70s. We can mention a few names and will start with the Via Brasil in New York. Opened in 1978 and is located on “Little Brazil Street” (West 46th Street), the restaurant today is one of oldest churrascarias (Brazilian barbecue houses) outside of Brazil. In Los Angeles, the Brazilian cuisine began to establish its roots through the couple Marcelino and Fatima when they opened the “simple and charming” Café Brasil 1, in January of 1991, and located on Venice Blvd on the corner of Westwood Blvd.
Still in 1991, and only five months later the Café Brazil opening, the churrascaria format landed in the great LA metropolitan area through the gaucho entrepreneur Valdir Souza, who founded the By Brazil in Torrance. Several years ago, the Brazilian siblings Stefano and Sophia Kang purchased it from him. It is a landmark Brazilian BBQ steakhouse in the area of restaurant in the area of South Bay, which includes Manhattan, Hermosa and Redondo Beach besides Torrance.
Speaking about landmarks in Los Angeles, we could not forget to mention the Zabumba, which was founded by the sisters Burgos in Feb. of 1994. In that same year, June and July, during the 1994 World Cup, the Zabumba attracted distinguished athletes from the Brazilian soccer hall of fame, names such as Romario and the legend “King” Pele among other Brazilian celebrities; and Pampas Grill, the first Brazilian restaurant to offer the “food by the pound” service concept in L.A. in 2002. Unfortunately, Zabumba closed its doors a few years ago, because of the catastrophic death of its owner, Monica Burgos, who was murdered by her husband, a famous producer of a “reality show” on American television, in Cancun, Mexico.
All these places mentioned here — except for Zabumba — are still open and serving, as well as many others from San Francisco to New York, from Japan to Europe. All this restaurants is part of the Brazilian culinary history, in one way or another, contributing to the globalization of the Brazilian culture.