A beloved breakfast spot in downtown New Bedford is gearing up for a big expansion on North Water Street.  Tia Maria’s European Café bought the building next door at the beginning of the year and construction has officially begun to bring more square feet to the restaurant with the same great quality.

History of Tia Maria’s

In 2013, New Bedford native Jessica Arruda took a chance on herself and leased out 42 North Water St. to bring Tia Maria’s Café to life in New Bedford. Nine months later, an opportunity came to buy the building and she jumped on it.

“I bought it, sold my house and moved into the ‘bachelorette pad’ above Tia’s,” she said. “I invested in myself and it was the best thing I could have done.”

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Ryan Arruda is Jessica’s partner in life and in business. They met in 2015, married in May of 2018 and purchased 36 North Water St. (formerly The Drawing Room) together in January of this year.

“We’re in it now; he’s not going anywhere,” Arruda joked.

What to Expect for Tia Maria’s Expansion

Coming up with a plan for the new space has been a long process, but ideas have begun to take shape as construction starts on the exterior.

There are plans to replace the siding and windows, but the Arrudas have been in constant communication with the Historical Commission to keep the integrity of the building in its truest form.

“Anything we can salvage, we will keep,” Arruda said. Intricate woodwork around the windows and the colonial stature of the building will add to the quaint and romantic feel of downtown New Bedford.

“We will have additional space for guests, but we will also have space available during business hours for private events, like baby showers and engagements parties,” Arruda said.

Tia Maria’s is Constantly Evolving

While this will be their biggest project to date, the Arrudas have constantly done what it takes to adapt and grow.

When they opened, switching their kitchen over from electric to gas cut their wait times in half. In 2020, they updated their plumbing and added their first dishwasher.

“We used to wash everything by hand,” Arruda said.

An incredible thought considering how busy the popular spot typically is.

Tia Maria's is a Family Affair

Arruda believes the success of Tia Maria’s over the years is directly correlated to the “all-in” mentality that comes from her Portuguese upbringing.

“It’s a family affair,” she said. “My family is very involved. My parents are retired but they are very involved. My cousins work here, and I have hired people that have become family. We have always been able to pivot.”

This next pivot will bring more life to the charming restaurant as the Arrudas continue to put their heart and soul into the restaurant.

The goal is to have the expansion completed by February 2023. Until then, pull up a chair at 42 North Water St. and order a delicious breakfast with Portuguese flair.

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