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Sunday, November 18 Business

New florist-coffee shop opens in downtown Stamford

Iris Oliveira has returned to his roots with his new venture in downtown Stamford.

With a good friend, he opened in late May Verde Galerie, a flower shop-café, at 79 Atlantic St. Following a previous stint running a fast-casual eatery in Bridgeport, Oliveira said he is pleased to be working again in floral services, a specialty that he started cultivating in his native Brazil.

“It’s something I know how to do, and it’s something I like to do,” Oliveira said in an interview last week at Verde. “It’s a passion.”

Before launching Verde, Oliveira had owned and operated a deli-pizzeria on Main Street in Bridgeport for about two-and-a-half years. He had previously worked in floral shops in Greenwich and Westport for nearly 20 years and studied floral design at college in Sao Paulo. His hometown is the Brazilian capital, Brasilia.

Verde’s co-owner is Oliveira’s friend and neighbor Marcial Perez-Saunders, a native of Lima, Peru, who formerly worked for the Garden Catering chain and still works in automobile sales. The two have known each other for 16 years and both live near Norwalk Community College.

“It’s always been a passion for me to open my own business and leave a mark in the United States, being that we’re both immigrants,” Perez-Saunders said. “That’s the American dream in a sense.”

More Information

For more information on Verde Galerie, at 79 Atlantic St., in Stamford, visit: www.verdegalerie.com

Verde occupies an approximately 2,000-square-foot storefront that formerly housed a hair-supplies shop. Renovations to the space, which Oliveira led, took about a year.

Many patrons stop by for coffee or lunch before going to a show at the adjacent Palace theater.

“It’s a bonus that we have the Palace theater right next to us,” Perez-Saunders said. “We sort of piggyback off the recitals and other events.”

The floral section takes up most of the store, with offerings including orchids, magnolias, cacti, vases and a number of other home goods. The name references the selection: Verde means “green” in Portuguese and Spanish.

As a backdrop to the greenery, a large black-and-white landscape portrait of Rio de Janeiro, dominated by the Christ the Redeemer statue and Sugar Loaf Mountain, hangs on the wall.

In the back of the establishment, the café serves coffee, salads, smoothies and baked goods including Brazilian cheese bread.

“We’re trying to be as organic as possible,” Oliveira said.

Oliveira and Perez-Saunders said the early customer response has encouraged them.

“It’s so sweet — I love how the boutonniere smells,” said Liz Rosario, who stopped in last week to pick up a rose boutonniere and corsage as a “homemade prom” gift for her boyfriend.

If business continues to go well at Verde — which now employs four — Oliveira and Perez-Saunders said they would like to open a second location in the area.

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“Stamford is so beautiful,” Oliveira said. “Wherever you look, you see new stuff coming in.”

pschott@scni.com; 203-964-2236; twitter: @paulschott

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