I met Kerry Coyle on a June day, while I was being filmed by a crew from a German Television Show, to be broadcast on ARTE (Association Relative à la Télévision Européenne) a public Franco-German TV network, much like our Discovery Channel. I chose to interview the owner of the Purple Café – a small open garden café close to our marina in Gananoque.
The first question I asked was “Why Gananoque?” Turned out that Kerry’s parents, and grandparents owned the house across the street and, soon after her daughter was born, she thought it was time to return to her roots – coming home to Gananoque. Coming home from British Columbia – amazing, I thought, as most young adults leave the east, head to the west, and never return.
Now after seven years, the couple, Aaron and Kerry have established a favourite café, close to the water and the Gananoque Boat Line. The first couple of years was spent renovating the 120-year-old house. The summer kitchen’s foundation needed replacing and now that is their permanent commercial kitchen.
One only has to walk around the tiny garden and you are mesmerized by its perfection. Recycled olive oil tins filled with Green Pepper plants, iron work, table & chairs and masses of purple blooming at the entrance. Aaron is a landscape designer and his reputation obviously well established, when one views their garden.
The “fence” between the neighbouring property, is a row of old doors… “Where did you find these? I asked. “Everywhere” was the answer. The couple have a good eye for finding unique pieces – from iron bed heads, to the old doors, found in the local dump, on the road, in old barns. You name it and they’ve retrieved them.
During the first year, they concentrated on breakfast and lunches – but as the reputation spread and numbers of diners increased, they changed the format to Lunch and Dinners. Pizza is now the favourite – and two years ago, they built their wood-fired pizza oven, at the back of the garden. Kerry explained that the fire is set in the middle of the domed oven, and once hot, moved to the side. Then as many as 4 pizzas at a time, can be baked – only taking a few minutes each.
“If we had known how popular the Pizzas would be, we would have built a bigger oven,” she admitted. And she is right, for the designer pizzas are what the young people exclaim are, “Awesome.”
There is limited indoor seating and the weather does play a major role – but suffice to say, this is one of the most unique River restaurants and well worth a visit.
And what about the winter, I asked? Some place HOT, was the answer. “Aaron comes from New Zealand, so a trip home each winter is now in order. One winter we went to Costa Rica.”
Apart from Kerry and her staff, there are two others that have become most popular – Noa, their young daughter, who often helps out, and Blue Boy, a beautiful cat. Both charm the patrons of all ages, and both work hard to make patrons feel at home. Blue Boy never left my side that morning – “We say he is a dog captured in a cat’s body”, says Kerry. Noa greeted us last year and made sure we were well taken care of.
As we left the Café, I thanked Kerry for starting this lovely and peaceful restaurant, and most of all, I thanked her for coming home to Gananoque!
By Susan W. Smith, Editor, TI Life