Friday, September 9, 2011

Restaurante Guanabara - Open for 54 Years (literally)

A charming report on today's G1 website, a news round-up site controlled by Brazil's predominant media company Globo, highlights the fact that the Restaurante Guanabara in the small north-eastern Brazilian town of Crato has been open for 54 years without ever shutting its doors. The restaurant is open 24/7/52, and in fact couldn't ever shut its doors if it wanted to - because it doesn't have any. The restaurant is open to the street and there are no doors to close. So the restaurant is always open.

Crato is located in the interior of the state of Ceará, about 500 miles from the coast and the state capital, Fortaleza, where Flavors of Brazil is based. The owner of Restaurante Guanabara, Francisco Alves, who's known affectionately in Crato as Seu Neném, founded the restaurant 54 years ago, when he returned to Ceará after living some time in Rio de Janeiro. He baptized the restaurant with the name of the bay on which Rio de Janeiro sits, Guanabara Bay.

Seu Neném being served his famous soup
Seu Neném is now a healthy 83 years old, and still works at his restaurant as he has done for the past 54 years, all day and all night. His daughter, Jariosnildes Maia Feitosa, who manages the restaurant along with her father, explains that her father was always a bit of a free spirit, a boêmio, and never wanted to install doors at the Guanabara. "We're not concerned with lack of security," she says, "Everybody comes here and respects our situation. We're already a tradition in Crato." In the many years it's been operating the Guanabara has never suffered a robbery, testifying to the respect she speaks of.

Locals appreciate the fact that whenever they feel like a meal at the Guanabara, they know it will be open and will welcome them. In fact, the restaurant's busiest hours are in the earliest hours of the morning. Seu Neném says that clients who stay until 3 am are likely to stay until dawn. And they're always welcome to do so.

The restaurant serves decent, typical food of the region, at a decent price. It attracts families, couples out on a date, and during the late-night rush hour, night-owls from all around the city. They come for the restaurant's early-morning specialty, a rich soup made with ground meat, eggs and secret spices, which locals will tell you is the world's best hangover cure.

On the Globo webpage about Seu Neném and his restaurant, there is a short video clip showing the owner, his daughter, and their enterprise. Even if you don't speak Portuguese, Flavors of Brazil thinks you'll find the clip to be charming, and you might be surprised at Seu Neném's other talent - he's a marvelous singer as well as a venerable restaurateur. Click here to be taken to the page.


  1. James,

    This is great! I love this post!
    Thanks for sharing.


  2. Nie to see that you're still reading the blog, Ray! Hadn't seen any comments for a while from you.

    And glad you like the post too...