Utah is host to many diverse countries and cultures.
One that is particularly prevalent in Utah County is the Brazilian community. Ranging from cultural dance lessons to well renowned festivals, Brazil definitely plays its role among the people of Utah. Restaurants, however, are what seem to be making the biggest impact.
Among Rodizios and Tucanos, Braza Express is the newest addition to the list of Brazilian restaurants in Utah County. Uniquely, it is the first to introduce a fast-food option, allowing for a more time-efficient food stop. The food, consequently, is much more affordable—ranging from plates that cost $7.99 to $9.99. Karenina Silva, a constant customer, said, “the prices are great and the portions are more than enough to share!” What a perfect dating idea!
More unique than being cheap or being a fast-food restaurant, however, is the real effort that Braza Express and its employees put forth to portray a legitimate Brazilian ambiance. In regards to their goal Ana Oliveira said, “We want to make all of our customers welcome. We want to show them the warmth of Brazilian culture and relationships.” Ana has been working with the owner of Braza Express ever since she arrived in the United States eleven years ago. Now, as manager, she shares the owner’s desire to bring the Brazilian culture to the streets of Provo and Orem.
Since opening, Braza Express has done a great job at achieving their goal. The southern-Brazil decoration, authentic food from São Paulo, constant sound of the nationally acclaimed Samba, and an all-Brazilian staff come together to form a very legitimate Brazilian setting. Still, it is not exclusive to Brazilian customers. In fact, Ana said, “About 60% of our customers here are American. They like trying our food and talking to us in our funny accents, we treat them as friends.”
An anonymous American couple said, “We don’t have any connection to the Brazilian culture, but we love the food and the people are so nice. We just thought the ambiance was great, with the music being so catchy!”
Though they have adapted some of the ingredients, the food still remains very similar to what you might find in a café in Brazil. To help maintain the authenticity, things like their juice, chocolate, mousses, and Brazilian sodas are all imported directly from Brazil. Karenina, being a Brazilian herself, said, “Of course I love the food! It’s like eating at home!”
There is no better place or time to illustrate this ambiance than at the restaurant itself on Fridays from 7 to 9pm. Ana and the owner, in order to really expose the culture, have organized a weekly show as an addition to the food. This setup allows for a live taste of Brazilian music and the sense of community that it brings, with no extra cost. As a final claim, Ana said, “Brazilians are a happy people and our happiness is very contagious. Our ultimate goal is to get you smiling by the end of your stay.”
By Stephanie Oliveira