In the streets of Bairro Alto: close in exchange, close to the guest

Passionate about food service, motivated by close customer relationships, Hilário Castro relies on top-quality products – which is why he and his MAKRO customer manager work so closely together. 2 men who understand each other.

Restaurateur Hilário Castro in the streets of Bairro Alto Lissabon

MAKRO has been my main supplier since day one.

Hilário Castro

Hilário Castro says MAKRO has been his main supplier ‘since day one’ – for fresh produce like vegetables, fish and meat, for staples like olive oil and for kitchen utensils like pots and pans. ‘In fact, for everything we need.’ It means that he is in constant communication with his customer manager, José Homem. They conduct their price negotiations where the restaurant owner spends his working day: at the tables in front of the Alfaia restaurant. The restaurant opened in 1880, making it one of the oldest in Lisbon, and is situated in the heart of Bairro Alto, the Portuguese capital’s bohemian neighbourhood. While passers-by graze on petiscos, the Portuguese answer to tapas, or take photos of the colourful, tiled houses typical of the area, Homem and Castro discuss the next delivery. They always meet here in the narrow streets on a Tuesday afternoon; and the delivery van trundles over the cobbles once a fortnight on a Wednesday. At least 3 times a week, a member of staff or the boss himself goes shopping at MAKRO – there are some things that they like to select themselves. Octopus, for instance. Specially prepared octopus is one of Castro’s specialities. For Polvo à Lagareiro, the octopus is boiled, grilled and then cooked in the oven in olive oil and garlic. Castro, a trained hotel and restaurant specialist, sometimes wields a wooden spoon himself to prepare this dish.

The 41-year-old opened his first restaurant over 20 years ago. Now, as well as the traditional restaurant on Travessa da Queimada, his ‘Alfaia Group’ includes another small restaurant, a wine bar and an aparthotel, all within a few paces of one another. What is the best thing about his job? ‘Serving the customer. The close relationship with my guests is a real motivator.’ Anyone who knows Hilário Castro will immediately know he is telling the truth.

Before a restaurant can open to begin with, the Portuguese restaurant founder needs one thing more than anything else: connections.

José Homem takes care of 300 customers in 3 contiguous districts in Lisbon. He not only knows their names and what they prefer to serve their guests – he also knows their needs and fears, their wishes and dreams. After all, before joining MAKRO Portugal, José was in the business too as owner of 2 restaurants.

The 'Own Business Whisperer'

Own Business Day and Study

OBD is a global METRO campaign to celebrate independent business owners. Castro was there from the start and took part in 2016 as one of just 20 OBD participants in Portugal. This year, around 3,000 business owners are involved in Portugal alone, with special offers like discounts, tasty treats and welcome drinks.

On the occasion of the "Own Business Day", METRO surveyed 10,000 people worldwide, 1,500 of them self-employed. The results of the study are available here:

Own Business Study

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