It is called Praça and is the winning project of the tender launched by Startup Lisboa for the exploration of the commerce and services area of Hub Criativo do Beato. This first food market dedicated to the excellence of Portuguese products and their producers, will open its doors in 2021.
When Startup Lisboa launched the tender in 2018, it was looking for new and innovative concepts of restoration and commerce integrated into a global project… and Praça responded. Now, 2 buildings of the Hub Criativo do Beato with an area of 1700m2: an old Meat Factory – where in the past the Slaughterhouse, the Butchery, the Sausage and the Refectory of the civilian personnel of the Military Maintenance – and an old Administrative Building and Workshop, will give birth to a new and innovative food retail and catering experience focused on Portuguese products and the producers that produce them.
Praça will, in the words of the founder, “be an informal gathering place to taste, eat, buy and learn at the same time”. In this market, which combines the best of sustainable and healthy catering with the sale of the product, there is no boundary between what you eat and what you buy, the product will be the protagonist and the Producer will be at the center of the offer. The concept was born precisely with the purpose of reinforcing the identity of what is Portuguese and leading the Portuguese to consume what is Portuguese. For this, a careful, rigorous selection of fresh, organic and artisanal products was made, resulting from a search for what the best small and medium-sized national producers produce. These products, in addition to being available for purchase, will also be used in the various catering spaces that the market will integrate, all based on a simple, genuine and regional cooking cuisine. With the clear purpose of reconnecting consumers, producers and products, Praça also assumes itself as a “storytelling space”: here the origin of the product is known and, above all, the passion of those who produce it and it is with this connection direct and transparent that are intended to create relationships as serious as healthy.
Among the various services that will integrate this project, we highlight a Refectory, – a reconstruction of the old Military Maintenance refectory with an open kitchen dedicated to the product – a Portuguese native meat butcher, a fishmonger with grill, a fresh market, vegetarian space, a wine cellar, a space dedicated to olive oil, a bakery and pastry produced locally, a cheese and delicatessen artisanal and also a grocery store where bulk and organic offerings are prominent. The Praça services universe also includes a Forum, which will function as a meeting point between national producers and the public, a School – exactly in the same building where, in times of Military Maintenance it also existed – dedicated to learning and sharing knowledge themes related to food, sustainability, Portuguese cuisine and a space dedicated to Portuguese Startups linked to the gastronomy sector.
According to Miguel Fontes, Executive Director of Startup Lisboa, the entity responsible for the Hub Criativo do Beato project, “It was always our intention that the services were completely aligned with the global concept of HCB, namely, that we could come to select an innovative proposal, differentiated and able to serve the different types of profiles that will cohabit in this space. “
Project Commitment and Sustainability
In addition to the offer of products and services that make Praça a place for leisure and convenience, the project was also born with 3 strong essential commitments: sustainability, innovation and social. In the area of sustainability, Praça is committed to promoting and supporting only producers who practice artisanal, sustainable and organic production, thus revealing respect for the different cycles of the seasons and promoting circular economy practices and minimizing waste. In the field of social commitment, there will be an integration with the Beato community together with other public entities and the launch of a Social Meal Exchange to provide access to meals for needy families in the region. Regarding Innovation, the space will have several urban gardens that will serve the different kitchens as well as the customers themselves.
Regarding the rehabilitation project, signed by the Broadway Malyan Portugal architecture office, the two buildings destined to the Praça will maintain their original design and will be integrated into a single space, creating a dynamic between them and a centrality in their passage. With an investment of around 3 million euros, Praça estimates to create 100 direct jobs and a significant impact at the level of Portuguese micro and small production companies.
Cláudia Almeida e Silva is the founder of the A Praça concept. She brings with her more than 15 years of experience in the retail area and the conviction that the food retail sector must go hand in hand with the restaurant sector. For the founder, the current consumer looks for more than just products on shelves in their shopping experience. For this reason, it reinforces the importance of “creating an informal social space to taste, eat, buy and learn at the same time” in the same space where “high quality products, sustainable and preceded by all, are gathered together, showing the wealth of our biodiversity and our olive oil products, charcuterie, cheese, wine or fruit ”. The Praça is then the space that materializes her vision and that fuses the universe of the restaurant with the sale of the respective product so that the customer can, before buying, knowing and experimenting, assuming herself as “the first Marketplace dedicated to the excellence of Portuguese products and the knowledge of our people ”, she concludes.
To give life to the Praça, the team travelled to several countries to visit other points of sale. In Portugal, they made a trip through the different regions to get to know the small producers, their methods and, above all, their stories. In this rediscovery of products, smells and flavours, they found the importance of giving prominence to the ingredient and product and giving voice to the passion of those who make them. From this research, more than 140 producers and about 700 products that are now available at Praça online shop were referenced in a first phase. The Praça Digital platform – which delivers to the home in the municipalities of Lisbon, Cascais, Sintra and Setúbal – appears before the opening of the space and has the urgent purpose of reinforcing the identity of what is national and leading the Portuguese to consume what is Portuguese at an affordable price.