We sat down to speak with the owner and founder of Fauna and Flora, Joanna, on a beautiful Friday morning. The room was filled with lots of green plants and mismatched furniture. We were excited to learn more.
TLAG posed the first question concerning the decision to start this cafe?
Joanna calmly responded, “It was a dream. I wanted to create my own thing and cook.” “I wanted to be connected to the people as if they were in my house.” She did not have a background in this area so consulted with her cousin who has a restaurant in Porto. In fact Joanna attended art school and spent time professionally as a commercial film director in advertising. It however is this creative side that completely takes over when thinking about the food and communicating her ideas to others, she points out. “I use mood boards.” “I put my mind in the visuals.”
As to the name, Fauna and Flora, TLAG asked, “How did you select the name?” Joanna said that they (the team) “did not want to be obvious.” They were not vegetarian and on the other hand, not all about meat. She thought Flora to represent the people and Fauna to be a representation of “fresh and clean food,” served at the restaurant. They went through many iterations but settled on the current.
Joanna provided some background on the location, which was quite interesting. She mentioned that it took about 2 years, 1 year to find the space and 1 year to build out the space. The space had been unwanted by many other suitors and the previous businesses were not memorable. Her and her team knew that the building had good bones and was very old so there would be interesting things at the foundation. She “searched for the stone.” This feature, according to Joanna, helps people have a warm feeling when they eat there. In terms of furnishing, Joanna let on that “we collected things from the trash and old buildings, like the chairs and doors.” “We even went to an old factory from Sintra.”
Joanna wants Fauna and Flora to be a place for simple and special life meetings like birthdays and marriage proposals. She also wants it to “welcome everyone.” She mentioned opening another location but “not a factory.” “The next place with also have love.” To date, there have already been offers to franchise. Joanna does not see that aspect in her future.
Joanna is doing something right. With her “focused staff” of about 20 including 1 chef, 4 cooks and 3 helpers in the kitchenm, Joanna manages the patrons. “They (patrons) keep coming back “even with the long lines, sometimes waiting 30 – 40 minutes. …We have very faithful clients.” The restaurant is also open every day.
TLAG asked one last question concerning work life balance which sums up this “dream.” Do you find that you are too available? The reader should know that Joanna lives 2 blocks away and has small children. What Joanna offers in response is true entrepreneurial spirit. “I have to be here. If someone dreams, it’s very hard to delegate.”