The story of his life merges with that of Portuguese emigration, having left Portugal as a child for New York, where the adaptation “was very difficult”, but which ended up giving him tools for the future, as he tells Lusa.
He has an engineering degree and worked at tech giant IBM, but only for a short time as he soon knew he would not be happy in that field.
And it was this misfortune that engineering brought him that led him to enter the world of restoration.
“The opportunity arose to buy a Luso-Brazilian restaurant here in New York, which was owned by a couple from Viseu who wanted to retire, and I ended up finalizing the purchase. money, we made all these sacrifices and from there my life went on in this sector,” said the businessman, who has already had six restaurants in the United States of America.
In addition to catering, Alfredo Pedro proudly declared that he was the “first Portuguese hotelier in all of the United States”: “No one can take that away from me”, he stressed.
However, being a man of “easy relations”, who likes contact with customers, he saw the “coldness” of hotels as an obstacle to expanding this aspect of the business, currently maintaining only one hotel in the Algarve: the “Carvi Beach Hotel”.
All this experience accumulated during its 68 years, culminated in a new space opened this month, in the heart of Manhattan, called “Bica Café”, which counts with the participation of children, who ended up following in the footsteps of their father.
With a name chosen in detail, “Bica” was born from the idea of opening a typical Portuguese cafe in downtown New York and, according to Alfredo Pedro, the intention is to open new units in the city.
“It is a very Portuguese space, starting with the floor itself, with very Portuguese designs. Then we will serve the typical pastel de nata among other products made here, in our space, by a renowned pastry chef from Uruguayan nationality,” he said. .
In addition to cream pies, “Bica” also offers traditional Portuguese snacks such as crackers, cod balls, pulled pork sandwiches and cod salads.
Brazilian cuisine is also present on the menu of this café, as has been a tradition in Alfredo Pedro’s restaurant career, such as açaí, coxinhas, brigadeiros, among others.
Next to “Bica”, Alfredo’s family will open “Ipanema”, a sophisticated Luso-Brazilian restaurant, a concept that “works”, he assured.
Currently, there are few Portuguese restaurants in Manhattan, which Alfredo Pedro regrets, pointing out that the loser of the situation is Portuguese cuisine itself, which ends up being less popular.
“There are thousands of Italian, Chinese, Japanese restaurants in New York, but there are fewer and fewer Portuguese. There is only one other typical Portuguese restaurant here in Manhattan – ‘Leitão’ – but I don’t see him as a competitor, because in the end we are two to promote our cuisine, our language and our customs”, he pleaded.
“We have to unite. We Portuguese people are not united, we don’t support each other. Unfortunately, I see that all the other typical Portuguese restaurants here in downtown New York have already closed. That’s very expensive to maintain rents here and whenever we are less,” he lamented.
The “Ipanema”, located next to the “Bica”, will have a somewhat extensive menu, but with “good Portuguese dishes”, such as duck rice or bolhão pato clams, and on the Brazilian side there will be moqueca, feijoada and picanha.
The new space will also have a private lounge, intended for business or more intimate moments, which will pay homage to Amália, a Portuguese personality of whom Alfredo Pedro was a close friend and whom he often frequented during his visits to New York.
And the service to personalities from the artistic world is not lacking in the career of this Portuguese entrepreneur, who even let the actress and Princess of Monaco Grace Kelly wait for a previously reserved table, for 10 minutes, in his first restaurant.
“I had to put her at the worst table I had. At the end I apologized and Grace Kelly thanked her for the service and promised to come back, which never happened, because she would lose her life in a tragic accident”, recalls Alfredo Pedro.
*By Marta Moreira, Lusa agency