Cathy and Angel Fana had a good thing going with their restaurant in Lawrence. Opened in 2017, Coco's Cafe & Catering was located in a Lawrence mill building and did a strong business. Until last year, when the building was sold and the new owners told them they didn’t want a restaurant in that space and that their lease was up in six months.
Cathy and Angel, who live in Chelmsford, were driving down Route 110 in Dracut one day when they saw the space at 197 Merrimack Avenue was available. The ill-fated Ella May’s Country Kitchen & Bakery had opened in the space about two months before COVID became a household word. That small, family-run restaurant couldn’t recover.
Now another, Coco’s Café & Catering, will try its hand.
Dracut Economic Development held a grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony at Coco’s Café on June 2 to welcome the Fanas to town.
“We’re happy to be here,” Cathy says. “This is a better location.”
For the Fanas, Coco’s isn’t just a business. It’s a lifesaver.
Right around the same time they opened the Lawrence location, tragedy struck not once but three times.
“Angel and I lost two children and then my mom died,” Cathy says. “It was back to back to back. Coco’s saved our life. It gave us a reason to never give up.”
About a year after they opened in Lawrence, the series of gas explosions occurred, killing one and leaving more than 80 people homeless.
“We’ve made it through a lot,” Cathy says. “The deaths of our children, the gas explosion, equipment failure. We just keep working through it.”
They’re hoping the Dracut location becomes even more popular than the Lawrence one. Many of their Lawrence regulars have told them they’ll make the trip up Route 110 just for their food.
Coco’s Café offers American and Caribbean food “with two twists,” Angel says.
“Cathy is Puerto Rican and I’m Dominican, so we have those two flavors and mix them together. It’s great.”
“Angel and I started cooking at home, and we were getting a lot of orders,” Cathy says. “Angel’s mom is a great cook, and so are my parents.”
Although they graduated from Lawrence High School the same year, Cathy and Angel didn’t get to know each other until years later. Between the two, they have eight grandchildren, with another on the way.
Coco’s offers breakfast sandwiches, omelets and eggs any style, with cold and hot sandwiches (pulled pork a specialty), salads, quesadillas, vegetarian options, desserts and natural juices. They also offer delivery and catering for up to 30 people.
At one time in Lawrence, they had nine employees. As they start up the Dracut restaurant, it’ll just be the two of them while they get on their feet.
Call 978-258-1605, visit www.cococafeandcatering.com, or follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Coco's is open Monday through Saturday, 5:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m.