His life story fuses with that of Portuguese immigration, having left Portugal as a child for New York, where adjusting was “very difficult,” but which ended up giving him tools for the future, Lusa said.
He graduated in engineering and worked for the tech giant IBM, but only for a short time, as he soon knew that he would not be happy in this field.
It was unfortunate that engineering brought him into the world of restoration.
“I had the opportunity to buy a Portuguese-Brazilian restaurant here in New York that was owned by a Viseu couple who wanted to retire, and I ended up making the purchase. We borrowed money, made all those sacrifices, and from there, my life in the sector unfolded,” said the businessman , who already had six restaurants in the USA.
In addition to serving food, Alfredo Pedro proudly said he was “the first Portuguese hotelier in all of the United States,” and emphasized that “no one can take that from me.”
However, being a man of “easy relations” and enjoying contact with clients, he saw the “coolness” of hotels as a hindrance to expanding this aspect of the business, as he currently maintains only one hotel in the Algarve: the “Carvey Beach” hotel.
All this experience accumulated over the course of 68 years, resulted in the opening this month of a new space, in the heart of Manhattan, called “Bica Café,” which promises the participation of children, who have ended up in their father’s footsteps.
With the name chosen in detail, “Bica” came from the idea of opening a typical Portuguese café in downtown New York, and according to Alfredo Pedro, the intention was to open new units across the city.
“It is a very Portuguese space, starting with the floor itself, and very Portuguese patterns. Then we will present the typical pastel de nata among other products made here, in our space, by a famous pastry chef of Uruguayan nationality,” he said. .
In addition to custard fritters, Bica also offers traditional Portuguese snacks such as crackers, cod balls, pulled pork sandwiches and cod salads.
Brazilian cuisine is also on the menu of this café, as has been a tradition in Alfredo Pedro’s Restoration Journey, such as açaí, coxinhas, brigadeiros and many more.
Alongside “Bica,” the Alfredo family will open “Ipanema,” a sophisticated Portuguese-Brazilian restaurant, a “successful” concept, he asserted.
At the moment there are few Portuguese restaurants in Manhattan, which Alfredo Pedro regretted, stressing that the loser from the situation is the Portuguese cuisine itself, which ends up being less popular.
“There are thousands of Italian, Chinese and Japanese restaurants in New York, but there are fewer and fewer Portuguese restaurants. There is only another typical Portuguese restaurant here in Manhattan – ‘Leitão’ – but I don’t see it as a competitor because in the end we are two to promote our cuisine, our language and our habits.”
“We Portuguese are not united, and we do not support each other. Unfortunately, I see that all the other typical Portuguese restaurants here in downtown NYC have already closed. Keeping rents here and everywhere is very expensive. Our time is less,” he said. .
Ipanema, right next to Pica’s, will have a somewhat extensive menu, but with “good Portuguese dishes”, such as duck rice or clam à bolhão pato, and on the Brazilian side there will be Moqueca, feijoada and pecana.
The new space will also contain a private room, dedicated to work or more intimate moments, that will pay homage to Amalia, the Portuguese character with whom Alfredo Pedro was close friends and who he often brought during his visits to New York.
And serving the figures of the artistic world is not lacking in the way of this Portuguese entrepreneur, who left actress and Princess of Monaco Grace Kelly waiting for a pre-booked table, for 10 minutes, at his first restaurant.
“I had to put her in my worst table. I eventually apologized and Grace Kelly thanked her for the service and promised her to come back, which never happened, because she would lose her life in a tragic accident,” Alfredo Pedro recalls.
By Marta Moreira at Lusa Agency