“If I did not have a good name with customers and neighbours,” Bento De Sao Jose told Canadian Technician.com the day after his shop’s 44th anniversary celebration Sunday, “my parking lot would have been empty.”
And the parking lot was anything but empty.
De Sao Jose, who goes by “Bento,” runs an eight-bay 24-hour full service independent garage in a part of Toronto’s downtown known as Little Portugal.
Since opening his doors a few kilometres west of his current location almost half a century ago, Bento has grown his operation into something of a community institution. And each year, he opens his doors to the locals, offering free barbequed food, terrific entertainment, and a chance to meet (and dance with) the neighbours, not to mention the folks who fix your cars.
Bento transforms the street-facing property of his shop into a kids’ play area and allows several community groups to set up tables and displays for neighbours coming for the barbeque.
Bento turns his yard into a dance floor. The adjacent storage area is where the giant sardines, veal cutlets and burgers get barbequed and at one of the bays, he sells offers ice cold beer (for next to nothing) with all proceeds going to Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children.
“I hope to see you at next year’s party,” he told our reporter.
And he probably will!
Bento’s not the only shop to hold a community party in the summer. We know that! Send pictures of your summer bash and we’ll put them here and on our Facebook site.