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Shrimp of the highest quality at accessible prices. Vivenda do Camarão is one of Brazil’s fastest growing restaurant chains. Topping and tailing shrimps for 30 years, the company uses its head to put the delicacy on plates of diners in a country better known for barbecued beef.
Leading food experts work on diversifying the restaurants’ seafood dishes, introducing new alternatives and adding to the success of the company that was built on one ingredient: shrimp.
Strategic cooking based in one central kitchen serves a complete menu, which is delivered to restaurants around Brazil and since last year, to the Unites States.
“We have followed changing tastes and steadily increased the number of restaurants. Affordable, innovative cooking has assured constant expansion and marked our presence in Brazil and abroad,” says Managing Director and Co-Owner of Vivenda do Camarão, Rodrigo Perri.
When Vivenda do Camarão opened its first restaurant in the Moema district of São Paulo capital in 1984, its concept was clear; the straight forward idea of serving shrimp at a fair price. Previously expensive and exclusive, the concept of fast-food shrimp dishes was revolutionary to the market and the taste buds.
Success led to a second restaurant in the Jardins district of the city. Subsequently, the company received an invitation to open a store nearby Morumbi Shopping Mall, which led to the creation of the Vivenda Express mall restaurant. The Vivenda chain was born.
In 1997, Vivenda opened its first franchise. “Setting up franchises expanded our markets and allowed us restaurants in more distant locations,” says Perri.
The rapid growth of the chain and the opening of franchised restaurants throughout Brazil required a strategy that both guaranteed quality and brand identity. The answer was a 3,000-square-meter central processing center in Cotia, São Paulo state, where all the dishes on the restaurants’ menus are designed and produced by some of Brazil’s leading chefs and seafood experts. The CPA (Central Processadora de Alimentos) Center uses state-of-the-art equipment and technology that produces efficient, high quality meals. “The CPA constitutes an ongoing investment for our company, all of our products are developed there, so we offer the same quality control and taste in all our restaurants in Brazil and abroad,” Perri clarifies.
In 2013, Vivenda opened its first restaurant in the United States under the Shrimp House brand. The two stores, both in Florida, emulate the concept of the chain in Brazil and Paraguay – located in shopping centers and selling the quality, readymade dishes prepared and frozen in Brazil, some of which are adapted to North American tastes.
“The North American market is an important area of investment. Following six months’ preparation, our goal is to consolidate our brand in the United States, by increasing our number of stores to six and launching an aggressive advertising campaign,” Perri reveals.
Vivenda’s meals are cooked, hot-packed, hermetically sealed (impervious to air and gases) and fast-frozen in a liquid nitrogen tunnel. “The tunnel is practically the only one of its type in Brazil. It fast-freezes the products, preventing the formation of ice crystals typically present in traditionally frozen food. Ice expands and breaks the fibers in the seafood, interfering with taste. Our ‘Cook-Chill’ meals maintain all the natural characteristics of seafood,” Perri explains.
Technology is a priority at the central kitchen in Cotia. A shrimp-peeling machine from the United States was imported to the CPA. Costing in the region of $1 million, it is one of only two in Brazil and speeds up production time and efficiency as well as improving the quality of the shrimp.
“All processes of food production are different. At Vivenda we have developed our own systems. We are the only shrimp and seafood readymade meal producer in the southern hemisphere authorized to export to the United States and Europe,” Perri says. In addition to quality control, two commissioned machines, exclusively designed and produced over 18 months, weigh and measure portions exactly. The system ensures that the dishes are the same size, with the same amount of sauce in all Vivenda restaurants.
The technology affords Vivenda the possibility to change and adapt its menus in accordance with market trends and demands. “We update our menus every six months,” Perri confirms. A team of chefs works five days a week developing new dishes based on market surveys, research and customer suggestions. New dishes are tested in São Paulo and adapted if necessary before national and international distribution.
The structure of the CPA also allows greater diversification in menu additions. “In the beginning, shrimp was our focus, but now we have added numerous other seafood options,” Perri says.
The menu now includes salmon, tuna and octopus dishes, as well as salads and risottos. “Vivenda meals are healthy. High in protein, it is very important to note that our shrimp comes from specialized farms and are 100 percent free from any type of preservatives,” Perri adds.
Diverse methods to guarantee freshness are also followed. High quality standards demand rigorous quality control. Vivenda adopts the HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points), which offer a systematic and preventative approach to food safety and preparation. “Contracts for exportation to the United States and Europe require by law the presence of a representative from the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture in our factory. Additionally, we adhere to all technical norms and health and safety standards,” Perri emphasizes.
The food is only handled at one central location, and simply defrosted and served at the point of sale.
Delivery within a 200-kilometer (125-mile) radius of the CPA is carried out by Vivenda’s fleet of trucks – for more distant locations, the company outsources logistics. “Logistics are impeccable. Preparation, loading, transport and unloading all take place in temperature controlled conditions. We oversee delivery from start to finish, with no outside influences, to avoid compromising quality,” Perri clarifies.
Despite no shopping mall restaurant chain offering the same menu as Vivenda and a ban on shrimp imports to Brazil, Vivenda does not turn a blind eye to competition. “Every establishment in the food court of a mall is vying for the same diner,” Perri notes. In the United States, where competition is stronger,Vivenda has its sights set on growth.
With 164 restaurants in Brazil, Paraguay and the United States (including franchises), Vivenda has enjoyed an average 25 percent annual growth for the last three years and projects revenue of $90 million for 2014.
With a hand for good cooking and a firm grip on success, Vivenda has plenty more up its sleeve to continue expansion. The company keeps the orders coming in and great tasting, affordable seafood on tables in malls.
When deciding where to dine more and more shoppers are choosing Vivenda.