Southern Brazilian Steakhouse, Fogo de Chão, known for it’s upscale “churrasco” cuisine, is opening its doors in San Juan today, marking the arrival of the chain to Puerto Rico and the Caribbean.
The 6,800 square-foot eatery located at the Paseo Caribe will likely be one of two that Puerto Rico will have in coming years, Chief Executive Officer Larry Johnson told this media outlet exclusively over the weekend.
“This was the place to start our expansion in the Caribbean and the reason is simple: This is a very sophisticated consumer base. People here appreciate quality and I think we’re going to meet the expectations of the smart consumers here,” he said. “I think … we’ll know within two years how this is doing and that’s going to help guide us to believe there’s probably space for two Fogo’s in Puerto Rico.”
The Fogo de Chão dining experience is based on “churrasco,” a centuries-old gaucho tradition that practices the art of roasting meats over an open fire and sharing dining experiences with family and friends.
The menu features a wealth of savory fire-roasted meats, specially prepared and carved to each guest’s preference by a team of authentic Brazilian-trained gaucho chefs. Guests have full control over the pace and portions of their meal as they signal the chefs with a small double-sided disc when they’re ready for more, or when they’re done.
Executives refrained from disclosing how much of an investment was made for the restaurant that accommodates 300 guests and has a spectacular view of the Condado waterfront. About 70 jobs are being created through this opening, the majority of which were local hires.
Johnson said the company believes the newest addition to the 35-restaurant chain — Puerto Rico becomes the 26th location in the U.S., with the rest of the eateries located in Brazil — will successfully cater to Puerto Rico’s discerning culinary crowd.
“Like Brazil, San Juan is home to some of the best food in the world. We are looking forward to introducing our authentic southern Brazilian steakhouse experience and the culinary traditions that we’ve brought with us from Brazil to San Juan,” he said.
Located just steps from Caribe Hilton, the restaurant features an expansive outdoor patio and a bar.
“I believe this location has got our prettiest view, there’s not a bad table in this restaurant,” Johnson said. “Our co-tenants here are going to be fabulous and the people that are coming here are our kind of customers.”
Unlike many other fine dining restaurants, Johnson said Fogo de Chão is not “business dominant,” he said, adding that the restaurant will nevertheless cater to that segment as well with a special lunch menu.
“We have a good combination of business customers, special occasions, and families, so we’re very comfortable being in this kind of environment,” he said of its Paseo Caribe location.