It’s more than 6,062 miles between São Paulo, Brazil and San Diego, California, but Jovani Gava is trying to close the gap, one dinner plate at a time.
Gava is the Director of Operations at Galpão Gaucho, the new Brazilian steakhouse that opened in Seaport Village last week.
The opening was the culmination of a years-long effort to bring a branch of the steakhouse to San Diego, a place that Gava has visited many times with his family and had targeted for the restaurant’s expansion efforts.
“We got interested because of the market, the population over here, this explosion, the diversity of people. Why not bring our concept over here?” said Gava. “It took us a few years to find the right spot. But here we are. I think we are right in one of the most iconic places here in San Diego.”
Inspired by the Gaucho culture and the dining tradition of the Brazilian cowboy, the restaurant will offer guests 17 different cuts of meat, including beef, seafood, pork, chicken and lamb. It also has a salad bar with 40 items and side dishes, like garlic mashed potatoes and homemade chimichurri sauce.
The weekday lunch menu will cost $48, and dinner and weekend service will be $72. There will be weekday happy hour specials on both food and drink options.
For Gava, dining at the restaurant will be about more than the diverse cuts of meats. Servers will be dressed in vibrant blue and red Gaucho attire. A green and red coaster will be used by guests to signify a request for meat from a chef holding a skewer.
“It’s not just a restaurant for me, to be honest,” he said. “For me, it’s like bringing an authentic dining experience and make people happy, bring people together with that food.”
Gava got his start in the restaurant business as a young man, working in a São Paulo steakhouse, first as a dishwasher, then bus boy, server and then as the person who skewered the meat.
“I started to get even more passionate about Brazilian steakhouse and the culture and the way we bring the hospitality for people,” he said.
The company opened its doors in Napa Valley in 2016 and now has seven locations across the country, including the Bay Area and Las Vegas. Then a little over three years ago, Gava was informed about a prime location in San Diego, a city he fell in love with on family trips.
The 10,000-square foot restaurant features space for around 400 seats and Gava expects it to attract a lot of large parties and events and do steady business from gatherings at the nearby San Diego Convention Center.
Added Sidinaldo Silva, regional manager of Galpão Gaucho: “San Diego is a wonderful city that we always wanted to step foot in and provide guests with an experience like never before.”