Moving with a Brazilian Beat, Businesses Lure New Customers


Walk down aisle nine toward the meat department at Reliable
Self-Service Market in Oak Bluffs, and you quickly notice something
different about the stock that now dominates the left lane. The coconut
milk, the sacks of bulgur wheat and the jars of chocolate cream and
eggplant paté are geared toward consumers whom some Island
businesses say they can't afford to ignore - Brazilians.

A Brazilian flag even hangs off the far end of the shelf, signaling
the presence of more than 100 items that cater to this immigrant

"It's a pretty extensive line," says store owner
Bob Pacheco, as he wraps up packages of ground beef. "We do a big
business with the Brazilian population. It's a large part of the
Island now."

Bob and Eddie Pacheco take a walk over to aisle nine and survey the
goods: a bag of charcoal imported from Brazil and a portable barbecue.

Interestingly, the Pachecos aren't really that knowledgeable
about their Brazilian stock. When it comes to placing orders for the
shelves, they rely on the in-house experts, the Brazilian employees who
make up nearly half of their staff of 20 workers. "If they think a
product isn't necessary, they'll tell you," says Bob
Pacheco. "I can't even read the packages."

Clearly, Brazilians are a vital part of the Island work force,
manning cash registers and deli counters and the grills of many
restaurant kitchens on the Island. And while Brazilians have started
their own businesses and retail operations on the Vineyard, they are
also making an impact on established businesses where they work.

"The more Brazilians you employ, it permeates your
business," says Glen Caldwell, a manager and bartender at Offshore
Ale in Oak Bluffs, where Brazilian food has recently been added to the
weekend menu.

Bob Skydell, owner of Offshore Ale, says the decision wasn't
originally aimed at tapping into the Brazilian market. It just happened
naturally, thanks to a Brazilian employee named Glaucia dos Santos.

"We just have Brazilian cooks here, and I'm always
interested in expanding the horizon of ethnic food," says Mr.

For the last six weeks, Ms. dos Santos, a line cook, has been coming
in on Thursdays to prepare her feijoada (pronounced fesh-wada), a black
bean stew with pork. Mr. Skydell now advertises the Friday and Saturday
night special and makes sure that a portion of the ad is in Portuguese.

"Turns out it's brought in some of the Brazilian
population," he says. "The thing the Brazilian residents
want to know is that it is really being made by a Brazilian cook.
They're interested in authenticity."

At least one Brazilian observer would agree. Wagner Bastos, who
works as an English language tutor and a translator, says Brazilians on
the Island are looking for the real deal.

"They know the quality of the food and the materials,"
Mr. Bastos says. "In the United States, you have many different
things, but you have to buy a lot until you find what suits your

Having Brazilian employees also helps businesses cater to this

"You need somebody to talk and to ask," says Mr. Bastos.

Back at Reliable Market, Bob Pacheco credits a former Brazilian
employee named Antonio Santos with bringing in much of his Brazilian

"When they come in here and they're able to speak to
people in their own language, it gives them a comfort level," says
Eddie Pacheco.

Other Island grocers - Cronig's Market and Stop &
Shop - have also reached out to the Brazilian consumer, carrying
imported items and hiring Brazilians who can communicate with the
customer who may not speak English.

On the entertainment front, the influence of the Brazilian customer
is also being felt.

The Atlantic Connection, a nightclub in Oak Bluffs, offered a
monthly Brazilian night with deejay music for the last year. Last month,
the club sponsored a Brazilian carnival, bringing in live music.

"A lot of people will tell you they don't contribute to
the Vineyard economy, but in actuality they do," says Michael
Santoro, managing partner of the Atlantic Connection. "The
Brazilians will come out and spend money if you give them the right

As at Offshore Ale and Reliable Market, it was Brazilian employees
who were the key to making it happen. Kitchen manager Cleyton Souza came
up with the idea for the program at the Atlantic Connection, and Danubia
Campos organized it.

Brazilians on the Island also proved they can fill up a movie
theatre if the marquee features a film of interest. Last month, the
Martha's Vineyard Film Society screened the Brazilian movie, City
of God, and drew a crowd of more than 150 people to the Katharine
Cornell Theatre in Vineyard Haven.

"I would say that 40 to 50 per cent of the audience was
Brazilian," says Richard Paradise, director of the film society.

With such a huge turnout, Mr. Paradise decided to roll the film a
second time the same night. When the mainstream cinemas on the Island
got wind of the success of the movie (which also won four Academy
Awards), they ordered it as well and have even held it over.

Last week on a Tuesday night when the movie screened at
Entertainment Cinemas in Edgartown, 100 people bought tickets.

Mr. Paradise says he plans to bring in more Brazilian and
Portuguese-language films.

Other Island businesses may not be retooling as much to meet the
demands of Brazilians, but they are at least taking note of nuances in
the Island market.

At Bunch of Grapes bookstore in Vineyard Haven, manager Robert Bick
says he is trying to think of ways to answer the literary needs of this
population. But books in Portuguese are expensive - a paperback
copy of Harry Potter would sell for $30 - and it's hard to
know what to buy.

For now, the bookstore is just making sure to keep replenishing its
dictionary stock.

Says Mr. Bick: "We sell more Portuguese-English dictionaries
and learning guides than all other dictionaries combined."