In an exclusive interview with People Chica, the restauranteur shares why and how her journey alongside her sister and her friend has led her to fulfillment.
Martina, Juliana and Camila Fracchia
Martina Fracchia on how her restaurant Ol'Days keeps the memories of her childhood alive.
| Credit: Courtesy of Ol'Days

Childhood can be one of the most formative times in a person's life—what people learn during this short era can inform the choices they make for the rest of their lives.

For Martina Fracchia, a joint endeavor with her sister Juliana Fracchia and best friend Camila Basigalup, would turn out to be one of the most fulfilling journeys she would embark on and one that sees them honoring the legacy of their parents and grandparents' way of entertaining and showing hospitality.

In an exclusive interview with People Chica, the co-founder and restauranteur dives into how Ol'Days was conceived and how their unexpected path has made their bond that much stronger.

Food spread from Ol'Days
With locations in the U.S. and Argentina, Ol'Days wants to give patrons the sense that they are dining with family.
| Credit: Courtesy of Ol'Days

The restaurant industry can be one fraught with many highs and lows. What inspired you to open up Ol'Days? What was the creative process like from inception to the final product?

Oh wow, let's begin. So, we had this vision very clear [in our minds] to create a company that will make a good impact in this world with every step we take, and while achieving that we will always keep alive our family traditions of hospitality and reunion. We always say, "With a cup of coffee, and a simple conversation, you can drastically change someone's day."

Since we were little girls we had the example of our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. We had the unique opportunity of having lived our childhood years in the small town of Bella Vista, Corrientes, [in Northern] Argentina. Hot summers, the Parana river, playing in the streets, and sensing a very strong feeling of "familia." 

So since very young, we have acknowledged the values of family, friends, [and] community, and how everything was related to the concept of sharing a homemade meal. Tradition, transcendence, and history—all together at the table. I always remember the big table, the simple things, the laughs, the smells around the house, [and] the sound of the spoon stirring the casserole.

[Our] childhood [was over] in 2007 [...] and we had to move to the city, to go to college [in] Buenos Aires. Fast forward, in 2013, we were finishing our careers with different paths, [and] as any recent grad, we tried for some time the regular jobs [within] our careers, but something was missing for us, we wanted more. The idea of opening a small coffee shop, a place to reconnect with friends and family started shaping by the end of this year. 

In 2014, after taking many risks and committing [a] fair amount of mistakes  OL´DAYS opened its first store in Puerto Madero, Buenos Aires. Offering a way of living conscious, grateful, and above all healthy and sustainable. So our mission of improving the world person by person, day by day, was a big success and very well received by the city. So in 2016, the second location plans started, and in 2017 we opened in [the] Recoletas neighborhood with a 6000 sqf space (this space closed three years after because the entire building was sold—yeap you cannot control everything). 

Maintaining a high spirit and with the fidelity of customers, in 2019 we started renovations to [increase] the space for our first location and then Covid surprised us all. During COVID the business did not stop fighting to continue evolving and we found ways to keep up, we introduced many products to eat at home, launched our online store, and always kept connected to our clients during quarantine. 

You know that phrase that says, "Everything bad brings something good?" Well, that was the case for us. The pandemic, sadly, put a lot of people out of business, so this left some good locations around the world empty for some time—this situation made it possible for us to open our first store in the USA within our budget. 

Opening in Miami was an amazing experience, and we were very happy to see how well the concept was received by locals. A lot happened between 2020-2022 as we grew a lot [when compared to] those first years. 

Our concept caught the attention of investors, franchise owners, and others. It's hard to say "no" to fast [growth] and cash flow, but we prefer to do it slowly, steady, and keeping up the true heart of the business. So being very patient and attentive to real opportunities without compromising our brand—and of course, meeting the right people to work with—is how we found our beautiful OL´DAYS Nomad location, which opened last year. Now we are currently opening our third location in the USA in Tribeca, NY, this April. 

They say working with family is something that should be avoided when possible, but Ol'Days is powered by three savvy and inspired sisters and friends. What have you learned about sisterhood through this process? How has it strengthened your bonds?

I think our case is something for the books, as you know we are two sisters and one best friend [and] we really grew up together so we are like three sisters. Unlike many family working cases, we have so much fun and complement each other a lot. I think that's the key to a successful partnership: that you respect each other's specialties in the business.

For example, I'm all about marketing and the future plans [for] OL´DAYS' growth, Juliana is all in numbers and operations, and Camila is devoted to human resources. So, of course, we give each other notes and thoughts on everything but we trust very much what each of us brings to the table. 

That said, all human relationships have their level of drama, so to void drama we have the following rules that any entrepreneur might find useful:

  • Beyond having a seat at the decision table, because you are an owner in the business, you have a role in the company and a team to look after and many people looking up to you.
  • As much as we trust each other, and [have known] each other since birth, at the company we maintain a professional structure with a lot of procedures to maintain transparency between us and our teams. Order is key. Be professional. 
  • Remember you are "mom and dad" to your people. Talk to each other and discuss decisions before talking to your kids. Avoid miscommunication between you and others. Clarity is key! 

Always be kind and put yourself in each other's shoes before judging. Laugh a lot, [and] enjoy working with the people you love the most, it's a gift from life. The amount of time you will get to spend with them because of this. Above anything, truly believe in each other, support each other, and let everyone shine.

Ol'Days business model
Credit: Courtesy of Ol'Days

Ol'Days has several locations. What have you learned about business as it pertains to running and operating a restaurant within two very distinct cultures and countries?

At the moment we have three locations in [the] USA, two in NYC and one in Miami, plus, one in Buenos Aires, Argentina. We run the same spirit throughout all four locations, [and] we have built strong teams along the way applying the same philosophy we apply to ourselves. Believe and embrace your leaders, support them when they struggle, [and] guide them to success. 

We do a lot of mentoring and try to always divide our attention to be present with all our employees. At the moment, we have around 100 people working for the company, and each of them is making this dream possible. Regarding culture, it's true that each place has a very different culture, but we have created our own and work together for this higher purpose of making good altogether. 

The farm-to-table process powers your restaurants. Why was this something that was important for you? What sets you apart from other concepts with a similar style?

Yes! Same as I said before, we are a small business and we love our clients' support. With that in mind we do the same for sourcing our ingredients or choosing our partners, this way we work towards completing a cycle we call "öne good thing." One good thing at each step—this is our philosophy. Respecting our producers, supporting the local market, carrying out a sustainable model, and leaving a positive mark on the lives of everyone we touch.