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Ossining Cafe Owner Puts Heart And Soul Into Biz

Pedro Ribeiro considers it a day off when he gets to sleep in until 8 a.m. The owner of Ossining's Cidade Café usually gets up at 5 a.m. to make it to his café by 5:30.

“Owning your own business is great, but it’s really difficult,” Ribeiro said, who is 20 years old. “But I fell in love with the business.”

In Porto, Portugal, where Ribeiro lived until the age of eight, Ribeiro was always around food because his father owned two restaurants and his godfather owned one of the biggest bakeries in Portugal, Counja Douro, or Gold Shell.

After emigrating to Ossining, Ribeiro fell into Cidade Café by chance. He had dropped out of high school and broken his leg working in construction when the previous owner of the café, Tony DiSilva, spotted him hanging around not doing much of anything.

DiSilva asked Ribeiro if he’d like to try out at job at the café. Ribeiro jumped at the offer and since then has never left the café. He learned how to make all the breakfast and lunch sandwiches, how to bake bread and how to make most of the pastries.

In 2009, DiSilva decided he was too busy with his carpentry business to continue running Cidade Café by himself. He asked Ribeiro, who was then only 18, if he’d like to become his business partner. Ribeiro consulted with his father and the two decided to buy the café from DiSilva instead of becoming his partner.

“I always treated (the café) like it was mine, and I wanted this place to be mine,” Ribeiro said. “I didn’t want to be stuck as a manager.”

With a pea green store front that opens into a narrow space with a long bakery counter, Cidade Café resembles a European café. It offers breakfast and lunch sandwiches all served on fresh baked bread, and a variety of European pastries including Portuguese custard, bread pudding, flan and fruit tarts.

Ribeiro starts the coffee fresh every morning at 5:30, and his bakers are in the café from 3 a.m. to 3 p.m. baking bread and pastries.

“The reason why I’m here all the time is because this is basically my future,” Ribeiro said. “I want to be able to support my family in the future, not to have to struggle over a pair of shoes for my kid. I want to do this now to make sure of my café’s future.”

Ribeiro enjoys seeing customers leave his café with a smile on their face and come back with a smile on their face.

“You’ve got to show interest in people,” he said. “I play around with them. I make them laugh… Even though I’m here every day, I learn something new every day. If it’s not about business, then it’s about a human, about the way people are.”

“Cidade” means “City Café” in Portuguese, Ribeiro explained, with the implication that the café is the “biggest” in both quality and size.

Ribeiro’s sister Ana, a senior in Ossining High School, helps out at the café in the afternoons, and younger brothers Rafael, 11, and Brian, 7, contribute by washing dishes or grabbing cookies.

Ribeiro sees expanding Cidade Café in the future to include more locations. He’d like to take a break for a while to study pastry making at a culinary school. Then he plans to open up another Cidade somewhere else.

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