Interview from Paradise with Anna – Pastelaria Bonjour. Moving and starting my own business in Portugal
Friends, hello, I’m Yurcik Yuri with you, our service MoveToCascais and our regular column “Interviews from Paradise”. Today we’re visiting an interesting institution, Pastelaria Bonjour. We’re going to talk to its founder and owner about how she managed to create the business, how the move went and what challenges she faced during the pandemic.
— Hello Anna, it’s a pleasure to be your guest. Could you tell us how it all began?
— My family and I came to Portugal 20 years ago. My father came first, like many people at the time, to earn money. To tell the truth, even then he had the idea to try to stay here, so that his children could grow up in better conditions. My father was a former athlete, a professional soccer player, he never worked with his hands. When he came here he got a job at a construction site, to get a foothold somehow. Just a year later my mother and brother and I came here. Mom immediately started working as an assistant pastry chef. She is a biologist by profession, so I had to learn everything from the very basics. In the end what happened: she worked for a long time in one place, with different confectioners and, after a while, she stays there alone. Very soon she grows out of that place and leaves for other, more famous places. And then, 10 years later, there came a moment when she said: “That’s it, I want something of my own.” This coincided with the fact that my father, of course, had long wanted to finish with construction, and I could not find a job after university – by profession I am an interior designer. We ended up combining our skills and decided to open a pastry shop.
We didn’t have any money at all at the time. We found a cafe that was already in operation, with all the licenses, took a loan and took a risk. It all worked out in the end: we buy the cafe, do minimal repairs and start working. It all started with a small family establishment: we had to do everything ourselves. In the beginning, they didn’t really believe in us, but we didn’t give up. Soon the business went on. After four years, the idea came to us to move to Cascais. We already had experience and we had a strong feeling that the speed of growth would be completely different. And we were right, because literally in two years we were able to do what we did there in four. It’s a completely different scale. The facility currently employs 16 people.
— That’s great! Can you tell us more about how it all works from the inside? Who does what?
— My mom is in charge of the shop and the entire production process. My brother and I split the service management. My brother takes care of the paperwork, reporting and so on. Dad is in charge of purchasing.In any case, all serious issues are decided together at family meetings. We try to get together every week because there are always issues worth discussing.
— Have you been able to fit into the local community?
— Tell us about your customers. Are you more geared toward locals or tourists?
— The bakery is located in a residential neighborhood, so the customers are mostly neighbors or people who pass through. We have several “waves” of customers. The first is breakfast, when people come in before work. Then a slow breakfast, when people who work the second shift come in or don’t work at all. Next is lunch: we always have a suitable lunch menu. Pastries and bread are mostly in demand: people come to us especially for bread.
— Do you bake your own bread?
— Yes, we make our own bread. My mother is always working in the direction of making it more natural. Interestingly enough, it can be hard to find staff because of that. We were looking for a baker recently and have found that they are so used to working with “chemistry” that they just don’t know any other way.
— What are your staff requirements?
— We had people of varying ages with and without experience. Of course it’s important to have knowledge of the Portuguese language. And it doesn’t have to be exorbitant knowledge – it just has to be basic. Even people with good English are acceptable.
— And what are the salaries?
— In our company people earn from 7,500 to 2,000 euros.
Friends, this is just part of our fascinating dialogue with Anna! If you’re interested in learning more about how the business environment in Portugal is set up and how it’s easiest to legalize in the country, be sure to go to our YouTube channel MoveToCascais – there’s lots to see.