Roger Oliveira felt like God put Winthrop in his path 10 years ago, when he bought Center Café and started serving breakfast to locals. On Oct. 18, 2018, Oliveira celebrated his 10th year in business and instead of applauding himself, he thanked the town employees who helped him out along the way.
“I thought, I’m going to do something for all the town employees, because they’ve been so helpful and I want to know how appreciated they are,” said Oliveira, who gave out 604 cafe gift certificates to teachers, Town Hall employees, police officers, the Department of Public Works (DPW), and the fire department. “I don’t come to work every day for the money, I come to make friends.”
When Oliveira first purchased Center Café, he changed the name to “Winthrop Center Café,” and expanded the menu and added to the kitchen equipment. Having a history of working at UNO Pizzeria, he wasn’t versed in breakfast foods and spent every evening teaching himself classic dishes to offer to his regulars. Several of these dishes have become well-loved staples, such as the Irish eggs benedict.
Having always prioritized customer service, Oliveira listened to what the regulars wanted and the entire first year he owned the business, he tweaked the menu to fit the demands. He spent the time getting to know everyone who walked through the café doors and soon he found himself constructing a “Wall of Heroes” for the veterans who frequented the restaurant for their daily coffee and breakfast. What started out as one picture frame centered on the main wall of the café, is now a collage of faces belonging to military members who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
This year, town employees received one of the many kind gestures that Oliveira has offered over the years. In the past he has given DPW workers gift certificates for helping him with snow clearing. He hosts an annual Veterans Day Dining Out and contributes to the Breast Cancer Awareness walk held every October.