A bar named after an artist has been attracting a new audience to a until recently unoccupied corner of Vila Buarque, in downtown São Paulo. It is the story of Van Grogh, which migrated from the Mackenzie Presbyterian University to a square in the same neighborhood and saw its attendance renew.
The pun with the name of the painter Vincent Van Gogh is not just a joke. Wedson Stavarengo, the bar owner, is so fond of Van Gogh that he named his cat after the artist.
In addition, Stavarengo is also a painter and trained in fine arts. Some of his paintings even decorate the interior of the establishment and add color to the walls, with drawings of figures such as Frida Kahlo and Marielle Franco. His partner, Roberta Lobo –now also a partner–, even asked if he was setting up a bar just to put his paintings. “Both things,” he replied.
Along with his paintings, there are drawings made by tattoo artist Matheus Alves on the white bricks of the wall with faces of artists such as Cartola, Criolo and Elza Soares.
The façade also has an artistic touch inherited from the bar’s old address, on Rua Dr. Cesário Mota Júnior, also in Vila Buarque. The tiles with drawings and poems made by customers that decorated the first address were transformed into licks for the new house, a year ago in Alfredo Paulino square.
The first Van Grogh opened in 2017 with an eye on the university public due to its proximity to Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie. There, the bar became famous for having the best bathroom in the region, unique and disputed. “We always wanted the bar to have a good relationship with the customers”, says Stavarengo.
The clientele gained a new profile at the current address, when Wedson’s twin brother, Wilson, joined the partnership. With the new features, the age group of the public has risen to 30 years old and the bar is increasingly seen as an environment for “everyone”, with two unisex bathrooms. “Diversity for us is a natural thing”, he says.
The bar also says that it values diversity in the menu as well. As there can always be a person who doesn’t enjoy drinking litrão, the menu also lists craft beer labels, wines and alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
Even close to Cracolândia, the business creates a relaxed atmosphere in the square. There is a lot of competition to get one of the colorful beach chairs, especially on sunny days. Van Grogh is not the pioneer in the choice of seat, but the choice was made not to interfere too much with the environment.
The bar is right next to the Minhocão, one of the places nicknamed the beach for the people of São Paulo due to the climate it gets on weekends, days when it is closed to cars, and it is full of people who go there to walk, ride their bikes and get some sun. . Even Van Grogh square looks like a little beach — concrete, it’s true. “There are days when it rains a lot and all that’s left is to bring sand, because there’s already water,” says Wilson.
The square was even painted by the Stavarengo twins, who also claim to go to the city hall to charge for the maintenance of the space, already integrated into the bar. And the movement of the public brought some security to the surroundings. With all this, Van Grogh also conquered a friendly relationship with the neighborhood.
It is because of this good relationship with the neighbors that the bar owners are still studying how to perform live music, a demand from the clientele. “It’s important to have this space of empathy, to put yourself in the place of the neighbor who also needs his space”, says Wilson.
Even without a concert schedule yet, the bar has a remarkable soundtrack, only Brazilian music, from classics to new talents. What seems certain for the future of the bar is the expansion of opening hours with the expansion of the kitchen.
A month ago, the place started serving lunches on weekends. On these days, the house prepares dishes like feijoada, for R$60, or noodles with shiitake, for R$45. for R$28, or the potion of pepperoni flambéed in cachaça for R$34.
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