[attach]5492[/attach]When Marie Crawford first opened Pulp Kitchen she didn’t advertise the fact it was a vegetarian restaurant.
“I wanted people to eat healthier and I didn’t want them to stop at the door going ‘well I’m not vegetarian,’ so we actually had that under wraps a bit,” she says. “People would be eating at my place for months and then go wait a minute, there’s no meat on this menu.”
After nearly a yearlong hiatus, Crawford decided to rejoin the neighbourhood to offer her vegan food, fresh juices and smoothies out of a shared space with LPK’s Culinary Groove on Queen Street E. at Broadview Avenue in January.
“It’s been my baby for 10 years. It was what I started and what I really wanted to do and through complicated reasons it didn’t survive,” she says. “Maybe the timing was wrong in the first incarnation and there was a lot of money lost and that kind of thing and I just couldn’t financially recoup it. I couldn’t hang on to it.”
Having recently become certified to be a personal trainer, she now splits her time between Pulp Kitchen and working out of gyms across the city like Hands On You on Carlaw Avenue near Dundas Street E. and strives to offer a combination of fitness and healthy eating options. The former competitive dragon boat racer, says all of her juices also provide different benefits such as improving circulation, boosting the immune system or energizing people.
“Everything we do is fresh,” she says. “What I want to give to others is the understanding that they are what they eat, number one, and when they leave here they feel satisfied that they’re eating something that is so beneficial for their body. It tastes really great but it also happens to be really good for them.”
She says she decided to reopen in Leslieville because she had always run the business in the area and felt like there was still a need for it. Although many other restaurants have a vegetarian option, she says the selection is usually slim and she wanted to offer a menu where they’d be able to choose everything.
“We still have a lot of our customers from the film industry, they’re a huge part of our business, people come up from California and L.A. and they’ll want to have something healthy and we’ve got that and we still seem to be filling that niche in this hood,” she adds.
She says she’s served the likes of Woody Harrelson, Jian Ghomeshi and Hawksley Workman and that both the film industry and the local community had a hand in naming her business.
“We brainstormed and came up with 10 names, one was Naked Lunch, Raw Deal — we were trying to tie it in a bit to the film community,” she says. “Pulp Fiction, Pulp Kitchen just spilled out so we put that in the mix and then we put the vote out to the community and we asked everyone to pick their top three names and that one just came out on top.”
Although she describes it as a long road, Crawford says being able to keep the business going again makes her feel good.
“I just love doing what I’m doing,” she says. “I could do this for the rest of my life. I could do a combination of personal training and juicing, which was always my baby at the beginning too. I’d love to just keep doing this and keep educating.”