Villas&Golfe Angola
· Restoration Sector 
· · T. Joana Rebelo · P. Délcio Teixeira

Café Del Mar

A seafront refuge

PMmedia Adv.
With one foot in the sand and the other in Café Del Mar, we enter one of the most sought-after corners of the Island of Luanda. 21 years have passed since the creation of this place that soothes the soul and delights your eyes, right on the seafront. 
The story begins with a management project of a French club, at a time when they were already aiming higher. «My husband had always wanted a restaurant by the sea,» explains Dinita Crespo, the owner of Café Del Mar. And it didn’t take long before the opportunity arose to make the dream come true, which came in the form of Coconuts, the group’s first-born. But, «when my husband realised what it was like to actually run a restaurant, he thought it would be better for me to do it. I’m a perfectionist and an exacting person. Seeing as I had to do it, I did it in the best way possible,» explains the establishment’s director. And that’s just what she did. Life chose to send Dinita, until then a vet, on a new path in a different direction, and from then on she was faced with a new challenge: beach, caipirinhas and human resources. 
By necessity and circumstance, Del Mar was born in 2002, next to its sister unit, Coconuts. Small in size and with working only as a snack-bar, the establishment remained timidly in the shadows, until a certain day. The date of 30 May was marked by what the sea took away. Little or nothing remained after huge waves came on land, taking over the space and, in the end, Café Del Mar no longer existed. Coincidentally or not, at the same time a project was being designed to restore the entire space, so the sea ended up speeding up the project. «Some things are a blessing in disguise,» Dinita reveals. It was a matter of months before the work was finished and, in the twinkling of an eye, Del Mar was sparkling once again, with a new colour palette and a new form. «I always wanted to get away from the European style, which is very clean. Here, it wouldn’t adapt to the African reality. The new project came about with the aim of creating a space with closer ties with Africa, with locally sourced materials,» explains the owner. And that’s how it was realised by the studio of Renata Machado, who delved into African roots to create a space with soul, colour and elegance. Since then, Café Del Mar has been known for its symbiosis of atmosphere, food and décor – a place of refuge, which makes you forget the frenetic life lived a few kilometres away from the island. A delight to the eyes of those who see it, where new customers become existing ones and long-time ones recommend it to those who do not know it. With a calm and well-structured service, the team now boasts 180 local members, who work together to raise the establishment’s bar year on year.
Unique, the establishment has a menu that stays true to the flavours of international food. The menu focuses on grilled food and, to whet your appetite, we recommend the tasty garlic prawns. The cocktails are famous in these parts, and you certainly cannot miss the refreshing caipirinhas or the red berry sangria, accompanied by a landscape that seems to be painted in watercolour. To sweeten the heart, the offer includes petit gâteau, whose flavours, in fusion with the ice cream, transport you to another dimension. «It’s a very practical service, so that it can be quick and efficient too. We don’t have a very elaborate menu, but it works,» says the manager. Fruit of what the land that gives it, Café Del Mar is the result of an investment in the right place and time, but it hasn’t always been easy. With the appearance of COVID-19, new challenges imposed themselves, and Dinita tells us of the difficulties: «It’s not easy to sustain a team and a restaurant with nothing but take-away. The costs are very high, not to mention the equipment maintenance costs, due to the fact that we’re by the sea. It requires regular maintenance. The sea is beautiful, but it wears out the equipment.» Longest-serving members of the team remained, but some had to be let go, though thankfully the doors were opened again for them to later return. «It was a question of belt-tightening like I’ve never done before. To make it through, we really had to give in in some situations,» she admits. 
Today, the bar emanates revitalising energy, along with smiling faces and African aromas. Stabler and more mature, Café Del Mar is a national benchmark, thanks to the magnificent picture it paints on the canvas of day-to-day life. As Dinita Crespo says, «we are living in a time full of question marks», in which wars and pandemics take away freedoms that, until then, were absolute. So, let’s make a toast to the sea, to food and to the freedom to feeling free. Salut!
T. Joana Rebelo
P. Délcio Teixeira