The Purple Bean Café is the brainchild of LaValle Twibell in September 2009. Her father had been unemployed for over a year and her husband had just been laid off. She saw an opportunity to use her family’s many talents to create a small business opportunity doing what she loves to do, COOK!
Her original business model was for a small bakery-coffee shop that she hoped to locate somewhere in East Austin. LaValle has many connections to the East Side. LaValle’s father had grown up in East Austin out near Ed Bluestein off a rural dirt road and graduated from Johnston High School. Her grandfather had owned a small Bar, The Oak Tree, off East 12th Street during the late 70s and early 80s. She and her husband Troy had raised their oldest daughter, Alura, in a small house at the intersection of Pershing and MLK Blvd during the 1990’s. Alura went on to attend the magnet program at Kealing Junior High. She began looking for rental property for a small café between Caesar Chavez and 11th Street in the spring of 2010 and had narrowed the search to 3 possibilities when her father unexpectedly passed away.
As a result, LaValle had to scale back her vision and decided to start out as a mobile food vendor selling coffee, pastries, and sandwiches. Within 2 weeks she found an ad on craigslist for all of the equipment she would need to start her coffee trailer. The 12ft trailer was purchased from the owner of Man Bites Dog who was selling it to move up to a full restaurant which LaValle took as a good sign that Papa was up there somewhere looking after her. While out looking for a location to set up a trailer she ran into Blake Shandley, a local property manager and real estate broker. Blake suggested LaValle set up shop under the breezeway of the East Village Condo. Two weeks later, the Purple Bean Café was up and running!
In just a few short months it became clear that The Purple Bean Café would soon outgrow this tiny trailer. But Papa continued to look after us and LaValle met a gentleman that was starting up a business that converted old FEMA trailers into mobile food trailers. The Purple Bean Café was to become his first customer with a request for a 30ft trailer. At the same time, she began discussions with the Austin Revitalization Authority (ARA) to build out the vacant lot on the corner of 11th and Lydia as a Mobile Food Vendor lot. The new trailer was ready just in time for SXSW in 2011. It was a little rough going at first. The site electricity was still a few weeks away, but we made it through SXSW with just a tiny generator.
Each day Troy would spend a little time outside removing dirt from the patio and adding plants as funds were available. Soon, The Purple Bean Patio was looking like a nice cozy place to sit and enjoy a delicious meal and a hot cup of coffee while watching butterflies and admiring the flowers.
In June, 2010 LaValle’s daughter Alura called to tell us that The Purple Bean Café was listed as the number one restaurant in Austin on Yelp! As a result, business continued to thrive even during the hottest summer in Austin’s history.Even with all the heat, the Purple Bean regulars continued to make the whole experience fun every day.
In November, Papa once again presented LaValle with opportunity. Clifford Gillard, manager of The Victory Grill was looking for someone to serve breakfast and lunch out of the Victory Grill. The main requirements were great food, great service, and a commitment to the community. The Purple Bean Café was a perfect fit and a win-win relationship was born.
Written by La Valle Twibell