Seventy-five monsoons back, Longuinho Almeida Coutinho, a gunner on a ship, took over a restaurant called Casa Portuguese in Margao and named it Longuinhos. Since then it has been maintained as the icon of good meals in the city.
Longuinhos in Margao has been a pit stop for people from South Goa not just for a good bite but a place to meet, share good times and foster memories.
“Longuinhos is Margao. In the olden times, it was a place where many matches made in heaven were made. It was the first restaurant in Margao that offered us a place to reinvigorate our energy,” recollects Agnelo Furtado from Chinchinim, a regular at the restaurant.
Unlike most restaurants, Longuinhos opens its doors at 8.30 am and closes at 11 pm. “We served breakfast, lunch, tea and dinner. This is a place that makes one feel at home, anytime,” says Ilio Longuinhos, one of the two sons who runs the place.
The vision of Longuinhos is now being carried forward by sons Ilio and Ivo with the latter maintaining the taste in the kitchen. Longuinhos is one of the few restaurants in Goa that produces everything in-house, even the bread being baked.
“We do not outsource anything. Apart from the kitchen, we have our own bakery, and we have not changed a single dish on our menu. Brother Ivo trains the cooks and that is how we maintain the quality of our taste,” discloses Ilio.
In the beginning, Longuinhos catered to the Portuguese and after liberation it became the haunt of the elite from South Goa. “Initially, people after getting civilly married would have their celebration here. Though the civil registrar office has shifted, newlyweds still drop in with their families,” reveals Ilio.
Pork roast, sausage bread, chicken roast, bebinca, cakes and pastries are some sought-after items from Longuinhos and despite the hiccup of the pandemic, Ilio thinks that it is back to business at the restaurant.
Longuinhos, to many, is not just about food, but a home-like space that is provided. There was a time when the space rang with the humour of the late Iloy, who dropped anecdotes of camaraderie of the past.
“The sons of the late Longuinho have maintained the past. The menu has gone through minor changes, but the ambience and interiors of the past takes one back to that time,” says the eighty-plus Jose, who still drives from Orlim with his .
“We still have old timers coming over for a meal, and now we have their children coming over. The baton seems to be handed over to the younger generation by the older and that is why we strive to maintain the past,” says Ilio.
At 54, Roque has been working at the restaurant for many years and knows the likes and dislikes of most customers. “Knowing the taste of customers comes from experience. I even know how customers like to be served,” says Roque with a naughty smile.
“We retain staff as long as they are able to work. There needs to be a link between the staff and the guests. Unlike other places, our staff address our guests as “Bab”, “Baba” or “Bhai” instead of “Sir” and that by itself is one of our signatures,” says Ilio.
Parking is a problem today for guests wanting to have a meal at Longuinhos but that issue is cancelled out by the good food and memories of the past that the place still retains.
As Ciclette, who has just finished her breakfast says, “Good things don’t come easy.” But, memories of Goa flow freely as one enjoys time at Longuinhos.