Groupe Ferreira: like father, like daughter, a contagious passion for entrepreneurship
Since last January, Carlos Ferreira, owner of renowned restaurants Ferreira Café, Taverne F and Café Vasco da Gama, has handed over the daily running of the Groupe to his daughter Sandra, the new Director of Operations. He is still very much on the scene to manage the transition. Sandra is a dynamic and creative young professional who intends to fulfill her father’s dream: make Groupe Ferreira into an ambassador of Portuguese culinary culture.
Sandra Ferreira was seven when Ferreira Café opened its doors. She spent all her weekends in the restaurant with her father. “I helped serve patrons, I ate and then… I fell asleep under the tables!” she recalled. “When I was older, going to CEGEP, I worked there part-time as a hostess. I loved it!” Travel is a formative experience for young people. Sandra spent three years studying in Pennsylvania and then worked for Macy’s in New York for two years as a department manager. She then had a marketing job in a start-up before coming back to Montréal last year.
”When I came back I was ready to be 100% involved in my father’s business.” The first months were spent working on opening Taverne F, launched last February. Located in the very heart of the Quartier des spectacles, it introduces a new restaurant concept in a friendly atmosphere. “We serve petiscos, traditional Portuguese small dishes to share. Each person chooses three or four and they are set in the centre of the table for everyone to share. Foodies can have a taste of everything for a reasonable price,” she explained. The restaurant is an ideal place to stop in before or after a show, but it’s also great for a date or for a night out with friends.
Change and Continuity
Taverne F is up and running, and now Sandra and her father are devoting their time to restructuring Ferreira Café with their new chef, João Dias, in the hope of keping the business remains solid in a tough market.
Faced with heavy competition and increasing costs, you have to be passionate and have an iron will to manage a restaurant. Carlos Ferreira has always had these qualities, and it is obvious that he has passed them on to his daughter. “Like my father says, there is always room to improve and innovate.”
This entrepreneurial philosophy that keeps Ferreira Café, nineteen years after it opened, one of the best tables in Montréal, is one Sandra has adopted.
It has also pushed her, in collaboration with João and Cristina Garcia, the Events Director, to develop a catering service. Ferreira Café offers fully personalized menus for large events. This year, for example, it cohosted the benefit evening for the Sainte-Justine Foundation, the patron of which is Céline Dion.
Carlos Ferreira was confident in saying, “Having a vision is also believing in a promising new generation and knowing how to hand over the reins when you feel the need to. Today, my daughter is there looking after the day-to-day stuff. I can work on developing new products, and of course I’m around if she needs me.”
A Promising future
Carlos Ferreira has just created a range of top-quality wines and olive oil that he wants to develop. The wines, which are from his native Douro Valley in Portugal, are currently offered for private import in all the Groupe’s locations.
“Our wines are flavourful and accessible to the public. As is also the case with our olive oils, we control quality from A to Z. Every time we manufacture a product that bears the seal of our brand, we want our customers to be 100% satisfied,” he said.
Sandra also makes strengthening the Groupe’s brand a priority. Indeed, when we asked her where she expects her company to be in ten years, she replied, “I’d like our brand to be recognized by all Québécois and to have greater visibility.”
More restaurants? More products? Sandra doesn’t know yet what shape this expansion will take. For now, she is at the centre of the winds of renewal blowing through Ferreira Café. And that’s what’s important. Born of the dream of a Portuguese immigrant who wanted to introduce his culture to the Québécois, it’s certain that the restaurant has a promising future and broad horizons in sight.
1446, rue Peel
Tél. : 514 848-0988
Café Vasco Da Gama
1472, rue Peel
Tél. : 514 286-2688
1485, rue Jeanne-Mance
Tél. : 514 289-4558
Text: Diane Stehle
Photos: Patrizia Castiglione