In part two of this inspiring feature, a passion for keeping things family-oriented and simple inspires one woman’s journey both professionally and personally
Jennifer Laplaige, a widowed mother of five, is the owner of the new Pür & Simple – a breakfast and lunch chain with a modern twist to the classic ‘diner’ experience – located in Paradise.
The journey that brought Laplaige from stay-at-home mom in France to widow to opening a business in her Newfoundland place of birth is a powerful one.
FREEDOM & FAMILY
“It was absolutely the best to move back here. It was a hard decision because I’d lived in France for almost 20 years and four of my children were born over there. That’s all they knew. But I wanted to raise my children in Newfoundland. I wanted family. I wanted the freedom of them to be able to run from one neighbour to the next and to be a part of Newfoundland.”
Moving home brought her to where she is now, she added. She admits she wishes she could say it was a family decision, but really, it was her own.
MAKING THE CALL
“I was the adult. I was the one that was supposed to try to provide some structure after they have lost so much. My children lost their father (Sylvain Laplaige). He was 40. They were so young. I was so young. I had to make that call.”
Any regrets? None, she said quickly.
“If you see my children now, they’re all doing so well. I think that coming home to Newfoundland really gave them that sense of comfort and reassurance.
When their whole world fell apart, Newfoundland was able to provide the foundation, she added.
“There’s nothing like Newfoundland. I think if you haven’t moved away, you don’t realize how lucky you are. A lot of times we take for granted what we have right here at home.”
PUT THE LOVE IN
That’s why opening her Paradise eatery, Pür & Simple, has meant so much.
“Ritou, (Ritou Maloni) she’s the co-founder. As a woman, she understands. She has a child. She knows what it’s like sometimes. Parents are providing structure and balance in a complicated world. Going into this has been a labor of love.”
She’s worked hard to make her family healthy and she’ll do the same for her business, Pür & Simple, she shared. “Pür & Simple is a dream realized. I’m a Newfoundlander and I really wanted to be able to provide a location where you can sit down with your family or friends over a good meal and have a good time or take something out and go sit on a park bench. When you have good food, you eat a little bit slower. You get to put that love into it.”
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Not being cheesy, she added, but being able to say that she’s brought a pure and simple (Pür & Simple) eating solution to Paradise is important to her. “Keep it pure and simple in paradise. That may be a play on words but it’s true. I’m very grateful to be where I am. I recognize all the help I’ve had. And I’m really trying to give back at this point.”
Thinking back on her husband and that loss is hard. “My husband had a massive heart attack at the age of 40. He brought the little fellow to school and he came back and he wasn’t fine. It happened so fast. My family came to France from Labrador to Corner Brook with no passports and with little kids. And they literally picked us up, or picked me up off the ground because it’s just not something that I’d ever want anybody else to ever experience. It’s one thing to lose somebody, but to actually be there and not be able to help them? That’s difficult.”
A TOUCH OF FRANCE
That’s why being able to say that she’s not only surviving but thriving is so important, and why she’s so proud to be where she is today.
Back in this province since 2015, she’s proud to say that she’s connected a little of the French back into her children’s lives with the purchase of Pür & Simple. “The company originated out of Montreal. So it has this Frenchness to it, it really does and that is part of my heart, right? As much as I’m a Newfoundlander, France (where she met her husband and had four of her five children) is still a huge part of who I am and who my children are.”
She says she’s been “smiling ear to ear” for weeks now.
“I’d like to pass out that love and affection. It’s just it’s the most heartwarming thing ever to feel how far we’ve come. And yeah, I guess you can tell I’m smiling from ear to ear. I’m very happy and I’m very proud. And I really hope that everyone enjoys this place as much as we do.”
But going into business for herself is about more than serving great food.
“What I really want to get out there is that I’m not just trying to put up a restaurant. I’m not just some business person pushing an idea. The concept is the idea of sitting down and relaxing. Like when you go on vacation and everyone sits around the table and you have discussions or you go out for lunch and you have your children and your husband or your friends. Take the time. I think that is really beneficial.”
At Pür & Simple, there’s nothing instant. Every pancake is made individually, with love, she gushed. “There’s nothing made in advance. It’s as fresh as you can get it. You can’t get anything fresher. So you’re going to have to wait a few minutes. You’re going to have to sit there and look at each other and have a conversation. And I really hope that when you leave, you’re smiling from ear to ear and you can’t wait to tell somebody and come back.”
EMBRACING THE LOVE
From the food, to the atmosphere, to the woman behind it – there’s so much beauty to behold. Laplaige beamed at the praise. “It’s the visual of the whole restaurant. It’s beautiful. We have greenery. It’s open. There’s a little bit of hustle and bustle. Then the food comes out and people take pictures because it’s so beautifully done. And then when you get a taste; there’s an English cream that we do that tastes incredible. I just want everyone to get the same feeling that I get every time I walk in. That this is just a great place to be and embrace the love we’ve put into everything and to embrace one another and enjoy quality time together.”
For more information, please visit pursimple.com