Closer Look with Rose Scott

Coffee Conversations With Rose Scott: Buteco Coffee & Bar In Grant Park

Rafa Pereira opened Buteco Coffee & Bar in 2018 in the Grant Park neighborhood.
Rafa Pereira opened Buteco Coffee & Bar in 2018 in the Grant Park neighborhood.
Credit Grace Walker / WABE

“Closer Look’s” series, “Coffee Conversations with Rose Scott,” continues this week at Buteco Coffee & Bar, a Brazilian coffee bar featuring “street food,” cocktails and live music, which opened in Atlanta’s Grant Park neighborhood in August 2018.

As part of this ongoing program, the “Closer Look” team is heading out into the Atlanta community to speak with residents, business owners and community leaders about the issues that matter most to them from affordable housing to transit to gentrification.

Below are some highlights from that conversation. (Scroll down to see more of the coffee shop)

Rafa Pereira, owner of Buteco Coffee & Bar on the meaning and mission behind Buteco:

Rafa Pereira, the owner of Buteco Coffee & Bar, talks about his journey from musician to coffee shop owner. (Photo credit: LaShawn Hudson/WABE)

“Buteco means ‘Bodega’ in Portuguese, which is a place that’s open all day that serves coffee, alcohol and food — just an environment where people come in and out for whatever they decide to,” says Pereira. “I always felt there was a missing thing, here in the [United] States, except for New York where there are some bodegas. Generally speaking, having a place that’s for everyone that’s open all day and that’s also why we went with the name.”

 On opening in Grant Park:

“I went to Georgia State [University], and I lived in Grant Park on Woodward Ave., back in 2006, and fell in love with the neighborhood.[I had] lots of artist and musician friends that lived here,” says Pereira, who has a music degree from Georgia State University and has recorded and toured with artists such as Janelle Monae, Zee Avi, India Arie and Shawn Mullins.

“I could bike to jam sessions and bike to school and just felt closer to what home is, which is Brazil, that there’s foot traffic and just a live environment in the streets. I fell in love with the neighborhood for that.”

Lessons learned as a business owner:

“Learning how to best deal with people is really great — I think that’s the best lesson I’m learning. With employees and customers making sure everybody is happy and what is it that they want and expect from us,” says Pereira. “Every day, I get a different comment, and that’s what we adjust the business to — it can’t be just one vision, it’s what people want.”

Philippe Pellerin, Principal of Pellerin Real Estate and Manager of The Beacon Atlanta on the vision of the development:

Philippe Pellerin, principal of Pellerin Real Estate and the visionary behind The Beacon Atlanta, talks about the mission of the development in the Grant Park neighborhood. (Photo credit: LaShawn Hudson/WABE)

“The vision ultimately, for anyone who is not familiar with The Beacon Atlanta, was to create a neighborhood center with services, products and offerings that would really serve the needs of the local community and I think we have achieved that [goal],” says Pellerin. “We have 51 small businesses here today; they include child care, child enrichment services, we’ve got nine restaurants, we have a market, a wine bar, an event space, some small retailers, medical office space, a CrossFit gym and a chiropractic office.”

On his approach to bringing developments to local communities:

“One thing I’m really proud of is over the last eight years since I started Pellerin Real Estate, and throughout all of our commercial projects, I think we’ve done an exceptional job of working with locally owned small businesses,” says Pellerin. “The reality is as a principal who is the developer and one of the owners of the property; I work individually with each one of the small businesses who lease space from us, and today we’ve got 130 small businesses in our portfolio all within southeast Atlanta. When you drill a little bit deeper, you see there’s an immense amount of diversity and folks who live in this community who are opening businesses here.

Kathryn DiMenichi, co-owner of Third Street Goods and The Cardinal on opening her business inside The Beacon Atlanta in Grant Park:

The Beacon Atlanta – business owners. (Photo credit: LaShawn Hudson/WABE)

“Before we opened, the location on the map, according to the USDA, was a food desert, so we wanted to bring something to a neighborhood that needed us that was the first reason, and the BeltLine is obviously a plus,” says DiMenichi. “[Grant Park] being a historic district was also attractive because we knew big-box grocers couldn’t come in and put us out later.”

Marguerite, owner of Marguerite’s Jerk Bistro on opening her business inside The Beacon Atlanta in Grant Park:

“I heard about the community through a realtor friend of mine and knowing that there weren’t any Jamaican restaurants in the area I wanted to bring something to the community that they can appreciate,” says Marguerite “It’s not just the typical Jamaican restaurant, I wanted to put a spin on it so there’s other stuff everyone can enjoy.”

Marguerite on the journey of opening her business:

“Because I’m so passionate about what I do the moment I get in the restaurant, then all the fear, anxiety, and everything just melts away because I’m doing what I enjoy doing,” says Marguerite. “To see my customers coming in and just enjoy everything that I fix no matter what it is — the plates are always clean, and that’s more gratifying to me than the money they’re paying.”

DiMenichi reflecting on the journey:

“It’s scary because you’re like ‘what if nobody comes?’,” says DiMenichi. “Over the last year the comments that we get from people coming in the door [saying] ‘we’re so glad you’re here, and I can depend on these things that you make and always have’, it’s just been really rewarding to serve the community and get that feedback.”

Ramon Guyton, Founder of House In the Park on how it began:

(L to R) Ramon Guyton, Kai Alce, Salah Ananse and DJ Kemit talk about the annual musical experience House In the Park, which takes place in Grant Park. (Photo credit: LaShawn Hudson/WABE)

“We started off in Candler Park, and we probably had 150 people there, most of us were doing parties, definitely late-night parties, and we wanted to see everyone in the daytime. I went to Kai and asked him if he was down to with trying to do this event, and he nonchalantly said ‘Yeah, no problem,” Guyton remembers with a laugh. “Then I thought about lineup, and I came up with DJ Kemit and Salah, and each one of them have a role and a purpose in what they do.”

“We started it off with it just being a party, but we knew it was going to grow into something else, we have no idea it was going to turn into a movement which is what it is. ”

On why they wanted to bring the event to Grant Park:

“Grant Park was always our dream park. As far as proximity, its right off the expressway — the neighborhood was already a good neighborhood,” says Guyton. “In the city of Atlanta when you throw a party you have to throw a party within a certain parameter — you can’t go further south than University, further north than Midtown, further west than Hightower and further east than Moreland.”

Closer Look is produced by Candace Wheeler, Grace Walker and LaShawn Hudson.

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