NEWS.MC had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Monsieur Stefano Brancato, the longstanding director of the Café de Paris. M. Brancato told us all about the famous establishment, how it coped with the coronavirus pandemic, and what we can expect to see in the near future.
What led you to become the director of the Café de Paris?
Actually it was in 1995, it was quite a long time ago, more than 25 years already that I have been here. I was quite young, 37 years old and before that I had also been working for Société des Bains de Mer in Monaco as well as the Hilton Hotel in London, Hotel Beach Plaza, Hotel Mirabeau, Hotel Richemond in Genève, Hotel Vello D’oro and Carasco in Taormina.
It has been a really nice experience because the Café de Paris is known everywhere around the world and most of the people that come to Monte-Carlo and stay in the hotels, tourists, artists and other personalities come to the cafe to meet each other.
The Café de Paris Monte-Carlo has a history of more than 150 years. More recently, since 1998 everything has been renovated, each year we have done something new, from decoration to the kitchen. Everything must be the way it should be.
Absolutely. Do you have any plans for the future?
Everything today with the economy has changed around the world and we’ve got to think about the future, of course. I think that once everything improves in Europe and around the world, everyone will want to return to Monte-Carlo.
I think the Café de Paris will continue their renovations. We hope that with vaccinations, we can start to live life normally again. We will be able to open from 8:00 until 2:00 in the morning, if it’s June or August until later.
If it is a special occasion, then we will stay open even later than that. We have many important festivities in Monaco, in the past we’ve hosted the Oktoberfest, which has been very popular.
What can a guest of the Café de Paris expect to see on the menu?
The Café de Paris has a great restaurant. We cook the Mediterranean way, we make everything everything that you could wish for, from salad to pasta and our meat selection ranges from beef to lamb.
We have the Green Globe certification since 2019 and work with the Foundation Albert II, we’re also careful about fish. Mr Goodfish ensures the quality of our fish and we make sure to not fish protected species.
Fantastic, and how many guests do you welcome per day, with the current restrictions that are in place?
We can make a group of 100 to 200 people, and go to the first floor of the Café de Paris, which is called the Salon Bellevue, which is a room and terrace where we can fit 200 people.
Of course today with the pandemic we have restrictions and we must make tables larger with only six people at a table, and then we have to respect the 1.5 metre distancing rule as well.
So we can say that the terrace was about 700 people before the pandemic but now we have only 200 people. Inside was 200 people, and today it is 100 people.
So that is, of course, comfortable for the guest, because they can have the confidence to say that they can go to the Café de Paris because we respect everything.
How would you say 2021 has been so far for the Café de Paris?
2020 was a bad year because we closed for months because of the pandemic, we opened again in the summer but it was quite difficult. From October we had to start closing in the evenings again so it was difficult.
With around 200 people working here and only 400 guests a day for lunch, we were down.
We can say that this year, slowly slowly, is getting better. I hope that it continues to improve over the summer and that everything will be better by October so that we can start 2022 in a better way for everyone. Perhaps we could then see more tourists.
Can we expect to see anything special for the Grand Prix this year?
For the Grand Prix it is quite difficult this year because of restrictions. In the tribunes, for example, there will only be 40 percent of the usual amount of spectators.
So we’ve got to respect everything. For the race on Sunday we can only make 300 people upstairs and downstairs, before it would be 1000 people. So only 30% of the capacity we could have before.
Are you expecting a full capacity on Sunday?
Yes I think that we are going to be full. But we can’t go over that because we have to respect restrictions.
Finally, what are your plans for the future?
My plan is to make a nice season for our guests. We hope we can have music again, because in the summertime we have music in front, on the terrace. Even after dinner, from another place you could come here and have a drink or ice cream.
We try to plan things, but at the moment it is too risky. We see how everything is going on. The pandemic is still there in Europe and around the world, so we must be careful. We have got to respect the distancing measures and everything.
We hope this summer that we will see some European and American visitors, and also those from the Middle East. Our visitors are very important to Monaco and to the Café de Paris establishment.
Featured image by Jack Brodie for NEWS.MC, M. Stefano Brancato in the Café de Paris