Biscotti & Cie - Manu
Tell us a little about how you decided to open Biscotti & Cie
Actually, it's been a long time dream... then an opportunity came up and I seized it. I wanted to created a small café where my two daugthers could have their first little job. I had read a book (fiction) about the life of a family growing up in Italy in 1950 or so. One of the character's name was Biscotti... I thought it sounded nice for a café :)
Chelsea is a vibrant community with year-round activities for those who live here and those from Ottawa. How do you see yourself as someone who is helping enhance the Chelsea community?
I have been in Chelsea for 10 years now. I founded the Chelsea Arts, Culture and Heritage Centre, was co-president of Chelsea Vision (a committee put in place to develop the vision for future development of the village).
I have been involved in all sorts of events, activities, community projects. The latest one being the Old Chelsea Ice Rink. I'm also ambassador for the Maison des Collines which will assist end of life cancer patients. A cause very dear to me. One of our young employees died of cancer 2 years ago.... I saw with my own eyes how houses like the Maison des Collines can help these patients and their families.
When did you first know you had a passion for the restaurant business?
I love food. I love people. I like receiving friends and family in my home. It's been a passion for years and years. But I am from the communications industry... then I got an opportunity to purchase the Chelsea Pub in 2008 and since then I have been living this passion.
Biscotti & Cie has such a warm atmosphere. Did you have a vision for how you wanted it to look?
Yes I did!! I am from Portugal so you can see the influence of the mediterrannée... all in Biscotti represents who I am as a person. Like I said previously, I also was really inspired by the book Le Soleil des Scorta, the story of an Italian family living in South Italy.
When you first set out to work on the décor did you work with a designer?
The first time, in 2012, I did all by myself. Visiting antiques shops and all. Then for the addition done in 2017, I worked with an interior designer and architect but still being very hands on on everything. I love design and art.
When you aren’t busy with Biscotti & Cie, The Chelsea Pub and your other ventures what do you do for fun?
I enjoyed the Gatineau Park, go cycling, do yoga, go to other restaurants and enjoy good times with great friends and family. Music, reading, my dear dog Stella.
How does running businesses right in Gatineau Park make life interesting? Any fun stories?
Well, it's a bit like being on vacation all the time. People who come to the Park are on leisure state of mind. They are more relaxed, less in an hurry. Fun facts : always great to see our PM and his family come to the Pub or Biscotti or enjoying themselves in the Park.
I hear Mrs. Trudeau is a big fan! Is there a favourite menu item?
I think what she probably likes best is to be able to be at the café and having her space respected by other clients. Indeed, our clientele is very respectful of their privacy. She also enjoys the yurt in the Winter.
The restaurant business is a challenging and competitive one. If there was one thing you would want your customers to know you for what would it be?
I thrive on creating spaces where people can feel something special. Spaces that are creative, kids friendly, respectful of all employees and clients, environement, nature etc. I would like my customers top remember me as a person wanting to create these public spaces while keeping the very special charm of Old Chelsea.
As a business owner is there anything that keeps you up at night?
I'm not a good sleeper at night... always thinking of my projects or the next one.
How many people do you employ with all of your businesses?
Your employees seem like a big family. Is it important for you to foster a connection with those you work with?
Yes it is a big family. I want them to feel that family conection so that they can themselves feel the same for our clients.
We can’t wait to come back to Biscotti & Cie. Are there any exciting events or new menu items we should watch out for?
Well, our dinner menu is very exciting. We want more people to discover our ambiance in the evening, outside on the patio as the Sun comes down. Very special. We are also planning on having shows in the evenings. Coming soon.