When I walk into Five Points Market & Deli on Wednesday morning, owner Maura Pulver is a bit preoccupied. She takes down the sandwich orders for two customers, swiftly turns around to grab an already-made breakfast sandwich for a third and rings out a fourth with a 12-pack of Bud Light. “Hello, Tom!” she says to him. “That kind of day?” The first two customers head out with their made-to-order sandwiches. “We’ll be back tomorrow!” one shouts over his shoulder.
That’s the kind of place Five Points is—a quick and easy pitstop during your work day where the owner knows your name and your order. The market, located at 42 Park Place, has been serving Saratoga’s east side for more than a century, with Pulver at the helm for the last eight-plus years. In that time, she’s become known for her sloppy, delicious breakfast sandwiches and home-cooked meals, and loyal customers return day in and day out to see her smiling face behind the counter.
That will change come September, though. On Wednesday morning, Pulver posted a photo to the Five Points Facebook page with the caption “Store Closing: Sale this Thursday.” The post was met with hundreds of comments from heartbroken customers, many of whom assumed this was the end of both Five Points and Maura’s delicious sandwiches.
But that’s not the whole story. “I just had to rewrite a post this morning because people were going crazy,” Pulver says, laughing. “I was like, ‘I shouldn’t have done that when I was falling asleep.'” Pulver’s new post explains that while Five Points will indeed be closing, she will be opening a new venture, called Simply Food by Maura, out of the commercial kitchen at the Saratoga Senior Center, which she has done catering work for in the past. The Five Points lease will be retained by the building’s owner, Jim Morris, and could potentially reopen in the future. (Pulver says she doesn’t know what Morris has in store for the space, and Morris did not immediately respond to Saratoga Living‘s request for comment.)
While Pulver had been leaning toward the decision to leave the business for a while, there were a few factors that together, made her realize the time to do it was now. For one, her oldest brother was diagnosed with a brain tumor earlier this year, and she and her entire family spent three weeks with him down in South Carolina before he passed away. When she returned, the COVID-19 crisis was in full swing, and she had to change how she ran her business. “We started closing at 4 o’clock,” she says. “We had been opening at 6am and closing at 8 or 9 during track season, and I’m here 15 hours a day. You know, 60 is knocking on the door. Do I really want to keep working 15 hours a day?” The realization that life is short, and that there’s more to life than work, combined with the fact that she was going to lose customers due to COVID-19 (especially because of the lack of racing fans in Saratoga this year) gave her the final push to make the decision.
But while 15-hour days aren’t in the cards for Pulver anymore, she didn’t want to stop doing what she loves entirely. And to figure out her next step, she had to do a bit of soul searching. “I bought a store that already existed,” she says. “I bought Five Points, and now some people have said to me, ‘Oh my gosh, is [the new venture] gonna be like Five Points at the Senior Center? Is it gonna be Five Points, Five Points, Five Points?’ And I was gonna do all that—I was going Five Points. Then I’m like, ‘I’m not Five Points. I’m Maura.’ I’m that messy breakfast sandwich that you need to eat alone with lots of napkins in the car. I’m mom’s cooking that you’re gonna take home and eat as a nice home-cooked meal. I’m everyday food, simply done. When I was trying to think, ‘So, what do I want to do?’— Did you know there’s wavy jalapeño Pringles now? Like I don’t care. I’m over that. I just want simply food.”
And Pulver is doing just that. On September 7, she’ll open Simply Food by Maura, which, unlike Five Points, won’t be selling Bud Light, Daily Racing Form newspapers or Wavy Fire Roasted Jalapeño Pringles. She’ll be focusing on breakfast sandwiches—she already has a 12-item menu of “Mad Sammies” posted to her website—as well as her popular Take 5 to-go dinners and catering. She will also continue to offer free lunches for those in need on Saturdays and Sundays, a practice she started back in April. “I’m taking some great Five Points traditions with me, but we’re gonna have some great new ones over there,” she says. “And Jim might keep some of my stuff.” While Pulver won’t have a storefront at the Senior Center, per se, Simply Food will have it’s own entrance and an online ordering system, so customers can order a sandwich and pay for it online, and then come pick it up.
Pulver has to clean out the entire Five Points space, so while the shop isn’t officially closing until August 31, she’s having a sale on Thursday, August 20, to get rid of product as well as some of the furniture and platters she has acquired over the years. “I feel so humbled to be part of the history here,” she says, tearing up. “This means a lot to me, and I know it means a lot to Jim. It’s a really special place, and I’m glad to have been a part of it. It’s just time for me to go. It just doesn’t fit where I’m at anymore, and that’s OK. It’s OK.”
I thank Pulver for taking the time between DoorDash orders and phone calls to chat with me and turn to leave. As I’m opening the door to go, she yells, “Do you want a breakfast sandwich?”