José Avillez to Turn Porto’s Oldest Café into Cafeína Downtown

8 January 2019

The well-known chef’s group acquired Progresso, which its new owners will convert into a restaurant similar to the space it owns in the Porto area of ​​Foz.

Progresso is no more. Opened on September 24, 1899, boasting the title of “oldest café in Porto,” the centennial establishment closed over Christmas. The venture will suffer a complete makeover and will reopen with a new name. The Cafeína (caffeine) group, which is controlled by José Avillez, acquired the café Progresso, a source at the company confirmed.

“By next summer, we plan on opening Cafeína Downtown in the Café Progresso building, which has a strategically interesting location and where we will create about two dozen jobs,” said Vasco Mourão, the head of the Cafeína group. The group owns five restaurants in Porto and was acquired by the José Avillez group last summer.

Considering that “its title as the old café in the city was just a slogan since it had long had no real link to its past,” the new owner opted to drop the name and instead intends to replicate the Cafeína concept in downtown Porto. Installed in a charming 19th-century house in Foz, Cafeína is the most international space of the small empire that Mourão sold to Avillez. Mourão continues to manage the group and holds a 25% stake.

The José Avillez group acquired Café Progresso from the entrepreneur Diogo Baptista, who along with his friends Artur Ribeiro and Pedro Sá Pereira, had acquired and reopened the establishment in the summer of 2017. The café’s new décor and service failed to attract the needed footfall, and the new café lasted for little more than a year.

In addition to Cafeína and Cafeína Downtown, which will open at 5 Rua Actor João Guedes, near the Praça Carlos Alberto, Avillez’s group also owns the restaurants Terra, Portarossa and Casa Vasco, which are all located in Foz, and the downtown Panca Cevicheria & Pisco Bar, on Rua Sá de Noronha.

In all, José Avillez’s restaurant empire “currently comprises 35 restaurants,” an official source at the group told Negócios, adding that “a holding company is being formed,” to be jointly held by José Avillez and Arié Investimentos (of the Arié family, one of the richest in Portugal). The holding company will control 100% of the José Avillez Group (including Cantinho do Avillez, Belcanto and Cantina Zé Avillez), 100% of the Doca de Santo Group (formed by a dozen restaurants, mainly located in Lisbon) and 75% of the Cafeína Group.

Original Story: Jornal de Negócios – Rui Neves

Photo: Paulo Duarte

Translation: Richard Turner