By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – As the culinary scene in Rio de Janeiro continues to welcome more international fare, another new eatery has opened in up-market Leblon on the end of the main street, Avenida Ataulfo de Paiva. The OMG Lounge was launched by Canadian businessman Arif Noor earlier this year, and offers a stylish lounge atmosphere with a specialized gourmet burger selection.
The owner and creator of OMG Lounge, Mr. Noor, has a background in fashion and retail in Canada as the head of CMT Group of Companies, with the brands Urban Behavior and Costa Blanca. Now with a vision for a fashionable lounge space, he has turned his eye to the new restaurant brand in Leblon.
Noor explained “I always wanted to open a place with a lounge style. I was lucky to come across this location and felt that this would be the right concept to launch in Leblon. The goal is to develop and expand the brand throughout Brazil.”
The burgers are the main attraction on the menu, with the highlights: Soho Burger (red angus burger, Indian spices, roasted red pepper, cheddar cheese and spicy mayonnaise) for R$29.50, Mykonos Burger (red angus burger, gyros spice, olive, feta cheese and pesto mayonnaise) for R$32.50 and the Shimokita Burger (kobe burger, oriental spices, seaweed, sesame, aged cheddar and wasabi mayonnaise) for R$59.50.
However beyond the burgers, their brunch menu is also expansive, with options like Brioche French Toast, Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict and a Vegetable Tofu Hashbrown. They also have their own beer label and an evening program that includes live jazz music and a DJ on weekend nights, as well as enticing nightly drink specials.
Noor shares, “We have our beer, our Chopp, and we will develop many other categories of products that will end up in a distribution model as the brand matures. We are also developing a ‘food trailer’ business that is very different from anything we have so far in Brazil.”
Mr. Noor tells a little about how OMG came together, “I moved to Rio in 2012. The concept was created in October 2014 and launched in February 2015. I was lucky to acquire this location and felt it would be the perfect [place] to launch a lounge, being a corner in Leblon.”
He shares how the progress has been so far in the short time they have been open. “Weekend brunch is very busy and so are the nights with live jazz & blues and the DJs. We are working on several concepts to get the beach crowd [next].”
The Leblon location is enviable in this chic beach-side borough, although until the construction for the new Line 4 metro (subway) on the Avenida Visconde de Albuquerque (running along the canal) ends, much of the road traffic has been detoured. Yet in the short-term the lack of passing cars and buses adds to the charm, making the area less noisy, and feeling full of strolling patrons drawn to the music and ambiance of OMG on a tropical evening.