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Vivi Leote

Business Woman, Entrepreneur and a Mother

The woman behind success projects of Confraria, the renewed Vela Latina and Nikkei.

While living for several years in Portugal, she saw the transformation of the restaurant business sector. “There is an evolution where the concepts are well thought and designed with care, the customer demands more today than some years before”.

Recently it opened Aruki Sushi Delivery by Confraria, a delivery service.

Confraria in Cascais
Vela Latina
Nikkei

How did you had the idea of “Confraria do Sushi”?

I had the idea of Confraria because I love sushi since I was a child and at the time we didn’t had a great number of sushi restaurants in Cascais, I realized that I found a very good business opportunity. The project was conceived by me, my first conviction was that the chef, in this case sushiman, had to be our partner. Meanwhile, between projects and studies, I became pregnant of our twins and the Confraria project stayed behind. When the twins were one year old we found the ideal space, where Confraria de Cascais is located today, and the Confraria project comes back online to open its first location in 2008.

How did you get the opportunity to open Confraria in Lisbon?

Confraria in Lisbon became reality because we noticed that we had a great number of clients coming from Lisbon to dine in Cascais and also because we had a great demand, a lot higher than we could take care of. The directors of LX Boutique Hotel were searching for a partner for their Hotel restaurant and we just bounded. In less than a week we had a signed partnership. It was easy, quick and we are very satisfied.

Confraria de Lisboa

In 2012, Confraria was selected by Time Out as one of the 30 restaurants to be part of Mercado da Ribeira.

And you opened the third location of “Confraria do Sushi”?

In 2012 Confraria had an invitation from Time Out to be part of the list of the 30th best restaurants elected by them, each one in its specific area, to the requalification project of Mercado da Ribeira. We had to accept the invitation. To be chosen by Time Out, for us, it was a great honour and we take a step to the unknown. A store with an area of 14 square meter, making high quality sushi, with a much quicker service and a lower price point. We started believing that the project was worth by its brand recognition, we never imagined even in our best expectations the success that we are having in Mercado da Ribeira. I can say that we worked very hard while learning to work in these conditions with the amount of clients we had daily. Until today, we couldn’t be happier with Confraria in Mercado.

In 2015, Confraria bought 50% of Vela Latina

An excellent opportunity?

In 2015, Salvador Machaz, a personal friend that knew our work, suggested us to rent the old bar space of Vela Latina and to open, there, one Confraria in Belém. Meanwhile, new players emerged that proposed to all the family to buy all the space. Obviously that for my current partner Salvador there was a sentimental value that he considered since that we are talking about a business founded by his father and uncle.

He presented the offer for us to buy 50% of everything and to make a combined bet. Once again, it was based in courage and conviction. To open a new door we bought and defended a brand with a 30 year history with a sheer amount of value. We had to decide the best strategy in order to have a harmonious and organized outcome. 

Nikkei became reality instead of a new Confraria because it was an opportunity for us to diversify without forgetting our nature.

Nikkei

We kept our base that is to work the fish, Asian fish, and at the same time we followed a worldwide trend that it is the Nikkei kitchen that consists in the fusion of Peruvian and Japanese cuisines.

Waka was born. The approval and acceptance of the clients was massive, the house was a success and gave us all the certainties that we wanted, another brand for the group.

In the following year, the group opened Waka, in Cascais, a trial for what would be Nikkei?

With the time that we needed to move forward with the project Vela Latina/Nikkei and with the chefs coming from Peru, we decided to open Waka in Cascais for two main reasons: one, to experiment the concept; second, because the space is in one of the streets in Cascais with the greatest potential, because the street closes in the Summer weekends and becomes one of the coolest places to go out in Cascais, this was really something that fell in our laps.

In September 2017, after months of remodelling, Vela Latina reopened with a new design developed by you, correct?

That’s right. The remodelling of Vela Latina was projected and designed by me. In the beginning I had only one certainty, I didn’t want sailing boats. I was looking for a more modern look, enjoyable for lunch but also for nights.

On the other side, I couldn’t shock our faithful clients at lunch and I needed a decoration that also was accepted by the female clients that we have, something that I felt it was missing on Vela Latina. We opened the doors to the gardens and to bring the gardens to the inside amongst the tropical setting that we created and we added the animals ordered to the Portuguese artist Teresa Viotti and everyone can see the result.

Nikkei

There is something one can notice is how we value the design of spaces. You were always involved in this matter?

I am always involved because design, lighting, sound, everything is part of the experience of the client during dinner and even if I am not a designer myself, I know what my clients would like to feel during a dinner in our spaces. To dine is not just to eat, but everything that you feel since the moment you enter the restaurant until you leave it, I do believe in this and this is what I like.

In the last year, we witnessed the appearance of Aruki Sushi delivery by Confraria. A sushi delivery service in Lisbon, 50% owned by Confraria?

Aruki was born from the idea of creating a more active take away/delivery service in our restaurants. At the same time, one of our current partners mentioned in one of our events that he was creating a more efficient deliveries company. We just had to unite the two concepts. So, Aruki Sushi Delivery by Confraria was born with our first store near Av. da Liberdade, a concept of efficient delivery of high quality sushi. We have, at the moment, two Aruki stores: Avenida and Telheiras and we are organizing ourselves to open a third one.

How do you see this amazing phase of the restaurant business in Portugal?

The restaurant sector in Portugal was completely transformed in the last few years. There is an evolution where the concepts are well thought and designed with care, the customer demands more today than some years before. The competition is aggressive but it allows restaurants in Portugal to achieve a higher set of standards and quality. This is a natural evolution and I think that the restaurants in Portugal are on the same level as the ones in the major cities in the world, which is amazing.

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