By Max Bowenfirstname.lastname@example.org
It was during the height of COVID that Diana Martinez was faced with a challenge—finding a new home for The Purple Rooster.
For 11 years, the restaurant—beloved for its varied vegan and gluten-free dishes—had occupied a space in Plainville near An Unlikely Story. Then a new owner came into the picture, and Martinez learned that she’d have to move during one of the worst periods of the pandemic. No exact timeline was given for the move, so she set to work finding the perfect location.
“It was kind of like a kick in the stomach and it was in the height of COVID, and I was one of the one restaurants that was able to stay open during COVID,” said Martinez. “I taught myself how to do doughnuts, I taught myself how to do chicken pot pies.”
Martinez looked at a number of spaces but some weren’t suitable for a restaurant, and others unavailable due to the pandemic. She found it ironic that the new home at 473 E. Washington St. is a mere two minutes drive from her home in North Attleborough. The space is far larger than before, but with the paintings, photos, and handmade tables and chairs, she has brought the ‘homey’ feeling that customers have enjoyed to the new location.
“We looked at Foxboro. I loved the landlord, he was so nice, but then they wouldn’t let a restaurant go into the spot,” she said. “So, every day, he (the landlord) would drive around and look at spots for me.”
Securing the new location
The transition to the North Attleborough site was a very difficult one. Martinez faced financial hurdles that took her to the edge. When COVID hit, she adjusted the menu to allow for takeout, but this didn’t completely replace the business lost, and the costs of opening a new location were enormous. Martinez sought out loans, government assistance, and even unemployment, but hit dead ends each time.
“I had $10 in my wallet,” said Martinez. “I had no gas in my car, no food at my house, my bank just kept taking out automatic deposits so I had 37 overdrafts at $37 each. So both my accounts were in the negative.”
It was from customers, friends, and family that Martinez got the support she needed. With emotion in her voice, she talked about her sister starting a GoFundMe, customers giving gift cards to buy groceries or bringing in bottles and cans that could be cashed in, and volunteers offering to do renovation work on the new location.
The site itself needed a lot of work. A former dry cleaner, it took a lot to make it suitable for a restaurant. To help generate some income, Martinez and her son delivered flowers for Black Opal Florist. After that, they’d stop by the new site to do what they could. Her sister would stop by after work to lay tiles or repair the ceiling. Working in December with no heat, they’d do jumping jacks to warm up. They had no electricity and had to stop working once night fell. Dozens of trips were made to bring furniture from the old location to the new one.
“We would paint until we couldn’t see any longer,” she said.
It was on June 8 at 8:30 a.m. that Martinez received the permits she needed to open. Right after that she went to the grocery store to get supplies. She remembers running between the kitchen and register and the customers said to take her time, that they were so happy to see The Purple Rooster open once more. Once again, her supporters were there to help however they could.
“They would come in, say ‘here’s some money, you go buy food, go put gas in your car,’” said Martinez. “Then a friend….he stopped by and gave me money to buy all the groceries so I can open.”
Martinez looks around the new location and says it’s a great fit. The neighboring businesses have been supportive and welcoming, and she loves the vast amount of parking, something that was an issue in the past. It’s somewhat ironic that one of the neighbors, Fresh Catch, was where she worked years ago.
Martinez made changes to the menu, such as new kinds of grilled cheese and an open-faced sandwich called the Suzy Q. In the coming days she plans to begin offering Thursday dinners.
“It kind of like takes away that all people are out for themselves,” said Martinez. “They just want to help because they saw my situation where I wasn’t put into that situation of my doing.”
The Purple Rooster is now located at 473 E. Washington St. For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/thepurpleroostercafe.