Six Years and Loving It
Mila's 6th anniversary
Our journey started back in March 2017, painting, hammering, and building the space that you may have visited once, or to our regulars, that would be many times. And like most businesses, what they become, often does not fit the initial vision, but the spirit of the original purpose remains at its core. Perhaps a good example of why it is not about the goal but the journey of its unfolding (or perhaps more literally its development).
Businesses take shape not because of a plan (though of course planning is necessary for any project) but because of life. Specifically the people who flow in and out and interact with the space and others, as if it’s a living being (I guess not far from the saying that a business is like a child).
Mila’s doors opened on 19 April 2017, as Mercearia da Mila. We started out as a deli to offer the neighbourhood fresh fruit and vegetables along with locally baked bread and coffee-to-go, as well as treats made by small businesses in the area. Our main objective was not just to be a piece of the community but to also be the community. We listened and watched how our customers interacted with the space and we evolved with it.
Our communal table became a big hit because people wanted to have a place to hang around and talk over some coffee or salad. Our wall of mugs evolved, a story that reflects why we care about our community. Slowly our bench outside expanded into a few more stools, and our window became a look out point.
As we celebrate our 6th anniversary tomorrow, I’ve spent this morning scrolling through our Instagram page to see the incredible evolution that could not have happened without our friends, staff and our community. In fact, it’s interesting sometimes to look back.
On our 3rd anniversary we shared that one of the key words when we developed the business was community. We continue to place community at the centre of what we create and offer. Even with our most recent evolution, our new menu, community is at the centre. We’ve kept some old favourites and added some new ones to reflect the diversity of our community, we like to think of this as a little something for everyone. And like we said in that Instagram post, “the community built us…our friends and neighbours made Mila’s.” It may have sounded cheesy then but it’s still true today, you’re the reason why we’re still around, and this is especially so given the difficult period we all faced during 2020 and 2021.
2020 was a tough year, but again, we couldn’t have made it through without you. By putting community at the centre, we shifted to create fruit, vegetable, breakfast, brunch and other essential produce baskets available for pick-up or delivery. We also put ‘fire’ into our kitchen and started developing our menu. In 2021, a year of limbo, we continued to offer baskets of essential produce.
It was also a time in which we sought new ways to support each other, the Santos community and throughout Lisbon, with the creation of Santos Collective. Working together as a collective, we created the space for people to come together with evening live music gigs and a weekly weekend market of fresh and homemade produce and artisanal products.
These events enabled us to support the work of associations such as the Parish Assistance of Santos-o-Velho – APSOV and the Associação e Patronato de São Francisco de Paula de Lisboa.
In 2022, we had a fresh makeover as our way of responding to our community’s needs. We eliminated most of the deli to offer more space for people to stay and hang out. Something we felt was much needed after so much physical and social distancing over the two previous years.
We facilitated access to the essential morning (and afternoon) coffee for those on the run, by creating an outdoor coffee-to-go counter. We also reshaped the space to put our staff at the front to welcome you.
Although we no longer provide fresh produce to purchase, we continue to offer our homemade products, such as our granola, which we’ve been making and serving since the very beginning. We continue to support many local brands such as ummi hard kombucha, locally roasted coffee beans, and Portuguese wines.
This year we’ve been enjoying the opportunity to share our space with chefs to offer Supper Club specials.
Our community is you, a visitor, a resident, a business, a friend and family.
Thank you for being by our side and supporting us, one thread that makes up the fabric of the Santos community.
To share in the celebration of our 6th anniversary, share our newsletter with someone and get a free* “Brunch at Mila’s” for you and your friend. Use the code MILATURNS6 when booking.* Offer runs from Wednesday, 19 April to Friday, 19 April.
*Booking required, insert code in the ‘special request’ box. Valid for 2 people max, single use. Both must be subscribers to our newsletter. “Brunch at Mila’s” includes: a main, granola pot, orange juice and a coffee.