The Purple Cat offers a wide variety of entertainment

The Purple Cat offers a wide variety of entertainment

Co-owner of The Purple Cat Vineyard and Winery Dan Ribeiro stands in the middle of the establishment. To his right is the wine tasting bar, currently featuring seven wines. To his left is a gallery space for local artists to display and sell their work. Behind the gallery space is the Philanthropy Tea and Coffee Company. (Valley Breeze & Observer photos by Melanie Thibeault)

GLOCESTER - The Purple Cat Vineyard and Winery, set back off Route 44 at 11 Money Hill Road in Chepachet, opened its doors in December, offering visitors a café, a wine tasting bar, a gallery for local artists, banquet rooms, a downstairs lounge area, and a soon-to-be theater.

"We really want to make this a place for people to gather," co-owner Dan Ribeiro, of Warwick, told The Valley Breeze & Observer. "This place is all about the experience."

The Purple Cat Vineyard and Winery, located behind the Village Bean Café, takes its name from the iconic Purple Cat Restaurant in Chepachet, which opened its doors in 1929 and closed them about 10 years ago.

The restaurant was located in a different building than the winery, and was owned by the LaVoie family, who, Ribeiro said, didn't want to sell the place to someone outside of the family and risk ruining the restaurant's reputation.

Relative Kevin LaVoie, a developer from Glocester, is co-owner of the winery with Ribeiro.

The two purchased the 11,500-square-foot cedar post-and-beam building, and decided to keep the "good name" of The Purple Cat Restaurant for their own business.

"It's a project that we've been putting together for about a year now," said Ribeiro, a former sales manager at ShelaLara Vineyards and Winery Inc. in Coventry.

In a case now in the hands of lawyers, he and another are being sued by the ShelaLara owner, Sheila Gold, for legal issues related to their leaving that business, according to a report by The Providence Journal.

According to Ribeiro, it's a "family dispute" and a "wasteful and frivolous lawsuit" that he said he intends to fight in court.

Ribeiro says of the Chepachet location, "We want to make this area a destination, to strive for quality and personalization. We're looking to market this statewide, all over Rhode Island, and nearby Massachusetts and Connecticut."

The building - which Ribeiro said used to be an indoor mall, an antiques market, and party store at different points in its history - now houses the Philanthropy Tea and Coffee Company.

Owner and chef Gina Fligg is leasing the space, and opened the bistro on Dec. 5.

Offering a menu of crepes, paninis, wraps, salads, soups, coffee, smoothies, and a wide variety of teas, Fligg also does catering.

Food is priced between $3.99 and $9.99, while drinks range from $1.59 to $3.99.

A dining room next to the café seats approximately 35 people.

Near the café is a gallery space where local artists can display and sell their work.

While there are 17 artists currently displaying jewelry, knit winter hats, embroidered dish towels, pottery, T-shirts, and paintings, Ribeiro said that they have room for more artists.

Prices range from $5 to $25 on most items, with more expensive pieces going up to $100.

The wine tasting bar currently features seven wines: Pinot Grigio, Vidal Blanc, Riesling, Trolley Car Red, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Hard Apple Cider.

White wines are $19.95 per bottle, while red wines are $21.95 per bottle.

The next wine to debut will be called Betty's Blush, named after the elephant that was shot and killed in 1826 on the bridge that spanned Chepachet River.

Visitors can taste seven wines for $5 or seven wines with a souvenir glass for $8.

But that's not all The Purple Cat plans to offer its customers.

The Theatre Company of Rhode Island is set to make the location their permanent home, and Ribeiro said that they will do stage productions beginning in late March.

Currently the troupe, led by artistic director Michael Thurber, calls The Assembly Theatre in Harrisville its home.

The theater at Purple Cat will be located downstairs, along with a lobby and bathrooms.

A schedule of six staged comedies will be announced at the end of February, Ribeiro said.

The Purple Cat offers three different seating areas for visitors.

Downstairs is a TV room, featuring sofa seating for 20 and a large, flat-screen television.

"The Meow Room" is located in an upstairs loft and can seat up to 50 people, while "The Purple Cat Playhouse" is a large banquet-style room that offers seating of up to 135 people.

The playhouse will be the setting for open mic nights, dinner theater, musicians, and other events.

Ribeiro said that their plan is to have Tuesday trivia nights, Wednesday karaoke nights, Thursday open mic nights, and "Wine down Fridays" with special appetizers and snacks.

A paint and wine night is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 25.

The Purple Cat is handicapped-accessible.

When spring finally arrives in Rhode Island, Ribeiro said that they hope to put a deck on the back of the building and clear some of the woods to create a place for people to have picnics.

In the 3.5-acre field next to the building, Ribeiro said, "We're hoping to do outdoor events, to do outdoor weddings, an art festival, and a farmers market on Saturdays."

For more information, visit www.purplecatwinery.com or call 401-566-9463.

A TV room in The Purple Cat Vineyard and Winery in Chepachet offers sofa seating for 20 and a large, flat-screen television. The winery, which opened in December, offers visitors a cafŽ, a wine tasting bar, a gallery for local artists, banquet rooms, a downstairs lounge area, and a soon-to-be theater. It's located at 11 Money Hill Road.