The city centre of Santos is a quite appealing place for tourists that look for a full view of the city from the top of the Monte Serrat Hill or those interested in the history of coffee in Brazil, visiting the Coffee Stock exchange.
Naturally, its historic part of the city is also a very business-orientated place. With the biggest port in Latin America receiving people from all over the world in cruises and cargo ships, it also places many offices and small businesses around.
Feijó is a family-owned restaurant placed in this exciting area of Santos that follows this frenetic pace since 2011 when the place was opened and it was only known as Feijó café. The business is run by other members of the family since 2013. The couple Adriano Faria and Juliana Rovai that definitely is responsible for Feijó’s reputation as a modern bistro, catering outstanding and authentic Brazilian food in Santos.
Midlands Traveller: Tell me about your career path. How did you get your start?
Adriano Faria: At first I was very interested in the marketing business and I even did a test (at the time I was in high school) to start at the university but I haven’t scored enough to start my course. So as I have always been good at dealing with people as well, I decided to study hospitality.
When I was in university, a whole new world opened up to me and I started to understand more about the universe of the hospitality industry and everything about the carrier that I could choose from; the services involving people, events, catering and etc. So by the time I finished my studies, I knew that I would do something connected to people, food and everything in between.
MT: What inspired you to open Feijó restaurant?
AF: Actually, Feijó was at first more like a coffee house. They served food but the name was Feijó Cafe, so they used to explore more of that kind of service.
The restaurant belonged to my two brothers, me and my girlfriend at the time (now my wife). We helped them to start the business by giving training to the employees and having advice about the business itself. After that, we went to live in Australia for a year and there we continued to work in the area.
When we came back home, we started working in the restaurant and six months later, they decided to sell it so we took the chance and bought it. And it has been a challenge since then.
MT: Why Santos?
AT: Due to the fact that we came back to our home town after spending a year in Australia. The thing started to happen here so it was only natural for us to stay in Santos.
MT: Feijó is located in the historic centre of the city. How would you describe this area?
AF: Feijó is located in a very busy area of the historic city centre of Santos. The town council, the city hall and lots of business buildings, and banks are placed right in front of us.
MT: What is unique about the food at Feijó? And how do you select what makes the menu at Feijó?
AF: Firstly, what makes Feijó unique is its food which is prepared with the best quality products. We make sure that the customer leaves the restaurant pleased, wanting to come back. Everyone here is treated the same way; employees, suppliers, clients and etc.
All of them are treated with respect and as they are all unique. So this way, the customers feel special and our employees and suppliers feel secure as part of the team. The menu is planned thinking mainly of our customers. It’s all about what they would like to eat when they can´t go home to have lunch.
It´s the kind of food that you eat at home and that could be made by your mom or wife but in this case, it´s made by us.
MT: What is the secret to keeping customers coming in?
AF: As I said before, the client will come back because the food is really good and also we have very comfortable chairs and the environment makes you want to stay a bit longer. It´s cosy and pleasant to spend time here!
MT: What are some of the challenges of being in a restaurant business?
AF: What makes the business harder is all the bureaucracy that we face here in Brazil. You have to pay a great amount of money to keep your business running. All the taxes and obligations with employees are difficult to handle as well.
The cost of the goods and materials is high but we know we can’t charge high prices because nobody will pay for them, so we know we have to put the prices down to continue with the business.
MT: What advice do you have for people starting out in the restaurant industry?
AF: My advice to someone who´s starting a business now is to first study the market of your interest and be prepared to face the difficulties. Surround yourself by good people and always choose the best products.
MT: What do you like most about your job? And what is most rewarding about it?
AF: The work is very dynamic and despite we serve almost the same menu every day, each new day is different from the other.
MT: Are there any plans and projects for Feijó that you would like to share with us?
AF: We are still working on the restaurant as it is very new, so we still have lots of things to improve but we have some new plans coming soon too.
Feijó restaurant on social media
Instagram | Feijó restaurante