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From the boy observing his grandparents manage the family tavern to an accomplished entrepreneur, we unveil the lessons he garnered along his journey and the decisions that have shaped his remarkable trajectory


Sérgio Frade's life forms a mosaic of experiences, full of twists and the metamorphosis of challenges into triumphs. Born in the quaint town of Beja, nestled in the heart of Portugal, amidst olive trees and vineyards, his roots are deeply embedded. Sérgio's grandparents' tavern, inaugurated in 1966 and affectionately named ‘O Frade’ in homage to the family surname, became a cornerstone of his upbringing. His grandmother took charge of the kitchen, while his grandfather hosted the customers.

The business thrived and traversed through the generations. One of the couple's sons assisted his parents since his youth and, upon getting married, involved his wife in the business. Their children, Sérgio and Pedro, grew up amidst the happy, bustling atmosphere of the restaurant. “The restaurant was our playground; we played there while watching my parents and grandparents work,” reminisces Sérgio. Upon reaching adolescence, Sérgio and Pedro transitioned from play to helping their parents and grandparents run the restaurant. “The tips we earned as waiters were transformed into summer trips.”

Over the years, the grandparents gradually slowed down, prompting Sérgio's parents to operate the business. Balancing the demands of the restaurant with other jobs, they eventually leased the establishment to third parties in 1997.

Driven by his passion for sports—Sérgio played basketball professionally and excelled as a federated tennis athlete—he moved to Lisbon to pursue a degree in physical education. However, after a brief stint teaching physical education to children, he realized this wasn't his passion.

A new professional opportunity beckoned him back to his hometown. His father, with a real estate franchise, became Sérgio's new venture partner. “I felt a strong connection to this field. It involved people management, and I like doing that; it has always been natural for me.”

Despite the real estate sector being uncharted territory for Sérgio, things took a positive turn. A family matter led him to step away briefly, but upon his return, he reclaimed the reins, emerging as the owner of CS Conselhos Imobiliários.

Established in 2005, the business weathered the 2008 subprime crisis that originated in the United States to cause a global economic recession. Surviving the financial storm, Sérgio felt something was missing, so he decided to expand his education. An MBA in marketing management rejuvenated his spirit. “I was ready to aim higher!”

After working for a local tourism portal for a short time, Sérgio re-entered the real estate sector, receiving an invitation from one of Portugal's major real estate firms, Teixeira Duarte. This marked a turning point, propelling Sérgio to new heights.

Adventures Across the Ocean

Sérgio knew the company had business interests in Brazil, a country he had always dreamed of living in. And in 2011, after repeated appeals over time, the company acquiesced by offering Sérgio a transfer to their Brazilian operations.

His time in São Paulo proved immensely prosperous. “I was in the country I wanted to be, in a large market, during the real estate boom, and working with incredible professionals.” However, a sudden change in his boss's attitude, who assigned him the challenge of selling plots in another state, led to an unforeseen outcome. “I felt I was being tested. But thanks to these plots, I met my wife.”

Despite successfully completing the challenge, Sérgio was unexpectedly dismissed. “It was a good novelty,” he jests. “It proved to be an important lesson for my entrepreneurial perspective, as I had never considered that, despite fulfilling all expectations, one might not secure continued tenure with the company.”

This setback led him to a brief project in Mozambique before returning to Brazil, driven by professional aspirations and an additional, highly significant factor: his wife was expecting.

Following a period of unemployment, Sérgio joined MRV, one of Brazil's largest construction companies. Having become accustomed to relocating, Sérgio was assigned to the northeastern region, overseeing operations in João Pessoa and Natal. “I managed 600 people and worked a lot, but it made me feel alive again!” This success caught the eye of another construction giant, Direcional, which offered him a position in Belo Horizonte.

During that time, Direcional utilized the banking correspondence services provided by Dubai, a company owned by Luís Felipe Neiva Silveira, CEO of 2Future. This initial contact set the stage for a lasting professional partnership that expanded globally and persists to the present day.

As dissatisfaction with his job grew, Sérgio's desire to return to his roots intensified. Fueled by his wife's similar aspirations, they moved back to Portugal, even without immediate job prospects. “At first, people asked me what I had gone to do in Portugal. It's a drastic change. The pace is different, the lifestyle is very different…” he recalls. Despite initial uncertainties, time validated their decision.

In 2018, significant interest from Brazilians in the Portuguese real estate market boomed. Among these people was Luís Felipe. Consequently, QriarCity was established with Sérgio at the helm of local management—the company focuses on developing real estate projects that honor pre-existing cultures and aims to support elements crucial for building a sustainable community.

Simultaneously, the gastronomic heritage of Sérgio's family, dormant for years, was rekindled by his father's foray into winemaking. Inspired to open a wine bar, Sérgio enlisted the help of his cousin, Carlos, a professional chef. Though his father withdrew, the cousins pressed on, giving (re)birth to O Frade in the traditional neighborhood of Belém, Lisbon.

From The President's Blessing to International Recognition

One evening in 2019, before the grand opening, a curious incident unfolded: Sérgio was organizing some items when he was startled by knocks on the window. Being startled by the noise of the knocks was quickly exceeded by the astonishment of seeing who stood on the other side of the glass: none other than the President of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, who was expressing genuine interest in the soon-to-open establishment. The president said he would come back. True to his word, he fulfilled the promise a few months later – and has since visited the restaurant on other occasions.

Specializing in soulful Alentejo cuisine and initially operated solely by the cousins and an assistant chef, O Frade gradually flourished. “I assisted with morning restaurant cleanup, then engaged in real estate work, returned to the restaurant for lunchtime duties, refocused on real estate in the afternoon, and later in the evening, I circled back to the restaurant. The routine was demanding, but today, I see that it was worth it.” The first accolade (of many that ensued) arrived in the same year: a distinguished local gastronomy-focused website selected O Frade as its favorite cost-effective restaurant.

In 2020, Luís Felipe expressed interest in venturing into the hospitality industry. He joined as a partner at O Frade, but shortly after, the pandemic hit. Despite facing challenging times, Sérgio, Carlos, and Luís remained positive because they knew they had successfully built a robust brand. Upon the reopening of businesses, O Frade not only rebounded strongly but also clinched another award: the esteemed Bib Gourmand, the second-highest recognition bestowed by the Michelin Guide. Sérgio humorously says that it was “Luís Felipe's Midas touch.” The Bib Gourmand recognition persisted for three consecutive years.

In 2021, Sérgio faced a new chapter as Carlos departed from the partnership. Although a cook is the heart of the restaurant, the most challenging part had been done, which was to rescue the soul of his grandparents' old tavern. The subsequent evolution of the restaurant, now under a new chef, proved triumphant, leading to an invitation from the renowned Time Out market in Lisbon to set up a venue there.

The year 2023 witnessed further expansion with the opening of a new restaurant, Guelra OTT (Ocean to Table). “After the pandemic, the world not only didn't end, but we're working to open the fourth restaurant in 2024. The initial three employees multiplied and became 50 and something!”

The Recipe for Success

Reflecting on the key to his professional success, Sérgio attributes it to authenticity. His advice to budding entrepreneurs is simple: “Don't go against your essence. The market is very competitive, so work with what you like and understand.” This authenticity permeates O Frade, Guelra OTT, and QriarCity, where genuine desires to serve well, celebrate roots, and foster community relationships generate value for the company and its customers.

He also draws inspiration from his family, especially his mother's welcoming nature, his father's entrepreneurial spirit, and his paternal grandmother's visionary approach to business (and with whom Sérgio loved to chat and learn!).

Sérgio's journey beckons contemplation on the unpredictable paths life can take. Embarking from a sporting background, navigating through real estate, and culminating in O Frade and Guelra OTT, his story unveils the enchantment that unfolds when diligent effort harmonizes with authentic essence. The question lingers: What prosperous venture lies ahead for him? Only time will tell.

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