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Olivier Da Costa: the unstoppable entrepreneur

Olivier Da Costa: the unstoppable entrepreneur

Olivier Da Costa © ffmag

He hasn’t yet turned fifty, but Olivier Da Costa is already the Portuguese restaurant entrepreneur with the largest number of restaurants outside Portugal; Grupo Olivier manages 26 restaurants in seven countries (Portugal, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Brazil, Thailand and Spain) across three continents. A chef and, first and foremost, a businessman, it seems as though nothing can stand in the way of this business whizz who has revolutionised Portuguese cooking thanks to a sixth sense that helps him spot trends before they even happen.

Seemingly inexhaustible Da Costa runs Grupo Olivier, which started with Olímpio, the first restaurant he opened in the middle of the nineties when he was just 21 years old and had only recently graduated from the Estoril School of Hospitality. Olímpio’s fusion of Brazilian and Portuguese food revolutionised the lethargic Portuguese food scene, which started to wake up to the changing times.

Restaurant Seen by Olivier da Costa

Seen © Grupo Olivier

Da Costa was born with a nose for business – he launched his first T-shirt company at just 14 – and explains that he feels more like an entrepreneur than a chef. In fact, he no longer cares about Michelin stars and other awards “because they’re not profitable”. Although he’s the son of television chef Michel, and acknowledges that this opened a lot of doors, he emphasises that the group’s success comes down to the way they do things. Excellence is so important to Da Costa that it sometimes borders on obsession. 

A creator of concepts

Da Costa is primarily a creator of new concepts that, once they have proved successful, he then repeats, always adapting them to their new locations. Yakuza is one such example; the restaurant fuses the East and West and the menu features the full genius of Da Costa as a chef, masterfully blending the flavours of the Mediterranean with the Eastern tradition of sushi and sashimi. Yakuza’s popularity is demonstrated by the fact that Da Costa now has six of these restaurants in different places such as Tenerife, Paris and Lisbon.

Restaurant XXL by Olivier Da Costa

XXL © Grupo Olivier

Guilty is another of the Lisbon-born entrepreneur’s big success stories. This modern, urban and cosmopolitan restaurant is perfect for a meal on any day and at any time, and its “pornographic” menu is packed with intense flavours. You can enjoy impressive house speciality pizzas, artisan pasta and signature hamburgers. It’s a place where you feel genuinely guilty eating. 

An agreement signed between Grupo Olivier and the Tivoli hotel chain has helped the group expand internationally and Da Costa has exclusively developed SEEN as part of this collaboration. The SEEN restaurant concept fuses Portuguese and Brazilian food and can already be found in cities as varied as Sao Paulo, Bangkok, Nice, Rome and Feira (Brazil).

Other restaurants in the group include Kob in Lisbon, which focuses on meat and all its different cuts, places of origin and ageing time; Clássico, a beach bar on Costa da Caparica where you can enjoy a sophisticated yet casual vibe in a spectacular Atlantic beach landscape; and XXL, the jewel in the group’s crown. It’s one of Da Costa’s most ambitious projects because he took over Vasco Gallego’s prestigious and emblematic XL after almost three decades of it being a gourmet benchmark for wealthy Lisbon society. There’s no doubt that by adding another “X” to the original name, Da Costa is showing us the full extent of his ambition and talent for success.

Restaurant Yakuza by Olivier Da Costa

Yakuza © Grupo Olivier

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