Wearing both a black tailored suit and a welcoming smile, Manuel Vigario appears from his office for a rare break.
Style and friendliness, the two qualities that are most apparent upon first meeting Manuel. They just so happen to be the same qualities that come to mind for most visitors to ‘Viva Brazil’, Cardiff’s first ever Brazilian cuisine restaurant. Although it’s a first for Cardiff, it has become familiar territory for manager Manuel, who has come a long way in the restaurant business that has brought him to Cardiff.
His journey began back in his hometown of Madrid, as he explained in a thick Spanish accent, “I started working at 16 years old, when you need some money. The beginning is hard. But now I try to pass on to my staff everything that I learned professionally in Spain.” It was never going to be an easy transition for Manuel, but he exudes a confidence in himself that reflects a successful adaptation to a new culture, and is now reaping the rewards. “I first came from Spain nine years ago. I was never thinking to come here, and when I came here I didn’t speak any English. I tried to push myself to learn English, moving up and up. I feel part of my life is English now, being here for the last nine years. Everywhere is nice people, the culture is similar in ways.”
His family are all back in Madrid, as he continues to make a name for himself in the restaurant business in the United Kingdom. However, Manuel does have a potential family here in Cardiff. “I was engaged last March on my birthday. It was a surprise for my fiancée. I told her you prepare the rest, I made the first step.” As well as having a refreshing sense of humour for someone with so much on his mind, he was also able to laugh as he fell victim to the errors of a particular jewellery company. “When we got the wedding rings, inside they made the wrong dates. We asked for November 15th 2010 when we first were together. They arrived and said 2012, so my fiancée said we will get married in that month.” Although it appeared even Manuel wasn’t so sure whether or not his fiancée was joking. “So we will see”, he laughed. “But Cardiff will be the place. I think it’s lovely, and all the family will come from Spain.”
Manuel Vigario is a success story, and one that can inspire so many. In terms of what’s next for Manuel, “You never know, I said I’d stay for one year and I’m still here. It is not a good time for Spain at the moment. I am happy here. I have my future wife, and am thinking of opening my own business soon.”