“I always say that if people knew how short life is, they’d spend the whole day kissing,” says Armando Cortes de Santos. He and his partners Filipe Castelo and José Estevez bring the Portuguese zest for life to Düsseldorf, with a Rhine River region accent. Their story: The building that houses our agency used to be a Portuguese club where the three regularly met. When the club closed they went to watch the football in the Greek restaurant across the street. “After Portugal lost to Greece in the final of the 2004 European Soccer Championships, we said: ‘We’re going to buy this place as revenge,’” Armando says, laughing. And they stuck to their word – the Greek restaurant became Club Portugues.
Since then the ex-shop fitters have constantly expanded their empire: It now includes Cave Portuguesa directly opposite our agency (with a branch in the Old Town) as well as Frango Portugues, which opened in the neighboring Schwanenhöfen complex in February 2013. Its specialty is grilled chicken piri piri.
So what’s the recipe for success? “Each store has its own soul and has an authentic feel thanks to the lively layout and Portuguese staff,” explains Cortes, who came to Germany when he was just twelve. “In addition, each partner has his own character and strengths that complement the others’ perfectly. We’ve known each other for ages: I even pushed Filipe around Düsseldorf in his baby stroller.”
The 55-year-old’s trademark is his red beret. The more gold stars on the beret, the better Armando’s mood. And there was definitely five stars (the maximum) on June 8 and 9: That’s when the Portuguese national holiday “Dia de Portugal” was celebrated in “Frango”.