Restaurant owner ready for next step in life’s journey

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Restaurant owner cheered by friends she’s nourished body and soul


TELL CITY – After 13 years of providing good food for life’s journey, as her Main Street Tell City sign touts, Vivien Pereira is ready to travel herself. The proprietor of Vivien’s Place on Tell City’s Main Street, Vivien marked her final day Dec. 12 with an appreciation dinner that drew dozens of customers.

The meal was bittersweet for many, who will miss the small woman with a big smile and arms built for hugging.

Working in her small kitchen, the woman everyone knows as simply Vivien prepared fish, chicken and beef for the buffet as friends ventured in from the cold and snow outside.

She served her first meals in June of 1997 at what was once the Downtown Tavern and Vivien remembers the thanks she owed to the late Paul Koressel at what was then Citizens National Bank for his backing.

The hours at Vivien’s Place were long. She often awoke at 4:30 a.m. to greet her faithful breakfast crowd and sometimes wouldn’t get to bed until after 10 at night. Plate lunches and weekly specials filled her days.

“It was hard work and long hours on my feet. But I loved the people,” she said.

Vivien’s Place was known for its hugs and most people couldn’t leave until the small woman put her arms around them. For those she knew, a hug was almost mandatory.

“People always come first,” she said. Vivien put people first, spending time chatting with customers. Knowing they were coming to her place for good food and friendly service, she listened to people’s problems and shared her thoughts and occasional doses of advice. Over time, she became close friends to many of them, sharing joys and hardships and mourning when customers died.

“The first few times I took it hard. It was like losing family.”

Vivien also worked to keep her menu’s prices affordable. Knowing that many of her customers were of modest means, she often absorbed higher costs and only passed them along when she had no other choice. She also purchased food items her diners preferred, even when they cost more.

She was rewarded with loyalty and Sunday’s appreciation event showed that.

Future plans for the restaurateur aren’t set but she plans to travel, visiting her son in Bali and her native Singapore. Australia is another likely destination. She hopes to be back occasionally to visit with family here. “And friends, too.”

Vivien said she has sold the restaurant to Paul Pierrard but isn’t sure what his plans are for the business. She will continue living above the restaurant for the time being.

A few regulars have joked that they’ll eat upstairs in her living quarters if she cooks their breakfasts. She declined the offers. What she may accept are some of the invitations for dinner at her former customers’ homes. “I think I’ll really like that,” she said.