Photo Credit: Mambo Restaurant Owners
Inside Mambo: The Newest Black-Owned Lounge In Lisbon, Portugal
Lisbon’s residents say having a Black-owned business on what tourists call “Green Street” is a big deal. Located on Rua da Silva in Lisbon’s Santos Lisboa neighborhood is Mambo: the newest Black-owned lounge and restaurant.
Before gentrification, Santos Lisboa where Mambo is located was one of the first areas where Black people lived and thrived. So, it’s a full-circle moment for the three owners, Gil Silva from Angola with Angolan and Cape Verdean roots, Duda of Angolan descent, and Mamadou Faty, who is from Senegal.
“This is probably one of two Black businesses that are on Green Street,” says long-time resident and Black realtor, Edson Lázaro. He’s translating on the owners’ behalf.
Defying The Odds
Lázaro says it’s a struggle for people of color to start businesses in Portugal because the cards are stacked against them. They have to jump through many hoops just to get a small business loan from the bank.
Gil, Mamadou, and Duda saw that the restaurant building became vacant during the pandemic and found it was reasonably priced. Lázaro says they got the space by being in the right place at the right time.
“If an investor would’ve stumbled upon that space first, it would’ve been gone. It’s a very expensive area and so many people want to open the restaurants there.”
Mambo is not only a Black-owned lounge and restaurant that pays homage to the owners’ roots. The menu changes to give guests variety, but you can find tapas and soups on any given day. Fridays are special occasions at Mambo, where the owners offer bigger African dishes.
In addition to the restaurant, there’s also music to vibe to. The owners plan to bring live music back to the space when Covid-19 restrictions are loosened.