What Ricardo Moraes has achieved in his lifetime is a testament to the power and energy that immigrants bring to this country.
He arrived here at age 18 from Brazil. By the time he was 20, an entrepreneurial zeal had pushed him to start up a series of businesses. He finally founded a floor manufacturing company, taking it from ground zero to $110 million in sales after 26 years.
He sold it, and briefly considered retirement. “I thought I’d hang out at the beach and drink Mojitas,” he says. “But that didn’t last long – just three weeks.”
That’s because he bought a French commercial cooking company, used it as a baseline for a new firm he calls L’Atelier Paris, and set up showrooms in Miami, New York, and Los Angeles.
“We design everything and make it suitable for the American market, so it’s easy to use and aesthetically beautiful,” he says.
That means full kitchens with stainless steel cabinets and ranges, decorative knobs and trim in brass, and wood finishes as well. It is a seamless blend of metal and natural materials. “We use walnut oak and ash – whatever the client wants to do,” he says. “There’s nothing artificial – no plastics or high-tech products for the cabinetry – it’s Old World.”
The color palette is pretty much endless, with 3,000 tones to choose from – or even a custom blend. “The metal cabinets can be done in any color,” he says. “We introduced pastels in the spring to brighten up people’s lives during these gloom and doom moments of the pandemic,” he says.
He and his wife spend a lot of time in Bordeaux, and it shows in his product line. L’Atelier Paris offers three different styles in cabinets and ranges – classic, traditional, and contemporary. All are created from the ground up, and one at a time. “We wanted to give people a true custom solution,” he says. “You can order a range at 83 inches long, and we’ll make it for you – we’re the only company in the world to do that.”
His target market? Cooking aficionados in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. “They’re people looking for custom kitchens, who are not going to an appliance dealer, and who don’t want what everybody else has,” he says. “Some cook for themselves and some have staff.”
This much is certain: L’Atelier Paris is not a mass-production outfit, and its price range reflects that. “A cooking range can be anywhere between $16,000 for a small unit, up to $200,000 – depending on how crazy you want to get,” he says. “Some units are 30 feet long.”
But it is the brainchild of a Brazilian immigrant who’s found a home in an free enterprise system that still welcomes and rewards innovation.
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