A Georgetown fixture is closing its doors on Aug. 1.
Roger and Robin Parker, owners of Parker’s Pizzeria, confirmed they will close their business at the end of this month, citing a desire to enjoy life more with a less demanding job.
“As we’re getting older and my health is getting a little worse, we wanted to have a life,” Roger Parker, 55, said in an interview in one of the booths at the restaurant. “It’s a very sad day for Georgetown. A lot of people come to the center of this town for us.”
Robin Parker, 53, said, “It was a very hard decision to come to, because you feel like you let so many people down.”
Now located on 124 N. Main St., Parker’s has been a staple of Georgetown for the last 53 years, originally opening under the name Pasquale’s on Apple Street. The Parkers still own a copy of the restaurant’s first menu.
Roger Parker’s grandmother, Modine Heaton, bought the restaurant in 1962, and along with her husband, Cyrill, operated it until Roger Parkers’s parents, Burt and Gloria, took over.
Robin Parker began working at the restaurant as a 16-year-old, back when the name was Pasquale’s, and stayed with it all the way through it changing locations, names and ownership.
The Parkers said they’ve had the restaurant up for sale the last five years, going through two different realtors, but they haven’t received many bites.
Even with their desire to sell public, they continued to show up to work every day, serving up their classic steak hoagies as well as a host of other Italian and American classics.
“I loved it,” Robin Parker said of working at the pizzeria. “I always knew at a young age that this was going to be my restaurant. I don’t know why, but I knew that. I was a poor kid, I grew up without a lot, but I just loved it. It was just me.”
Throughout it’s 53-year existence, Parker’s has grown into a mainstay eatery in Georgetown.
Roger Parker described how in the 1960s at Pasquale’s, students at Georgetown High School, the old location on W. Cherry Street, would line up down Main Street for a 25-cent mini pizza for lunch.
As the years went by, the bond between the restaurant and its customers grew, so much so that Robin Parker has packaged steak hoagies to send to South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and North Dakota, and that some former customers who now live out of town go to Parker’s before they even make it home to their families.
“One thing I really regret is that I didn’t keep a book for people to sign when they came in to see how far they came to get a steak hoagie,” Robin Parker said.
Roger Parker said the secret to Parker’s success was down to three factors: relationships, consistency and work ethic.
“I think the secret to our success was that people really picked up on that we actually really cared how the food comes out. We were here every day to make sure the food came out well,” Roger Parker said, not divulging the secret ingredients in their steak hoagie at the same time. “I think people knew that we really cared about them, too.
“And Robin had such a good repore with many, many customers,” he said.
She said, “I’ve got so many usual orders stuck in my head.”
“She could answer the phone, and she knew exactly what they were going to order, before they ordered. She would say to the other staff members (taking orders on the phone), ‘Are you sure they didn’t want pickles?,’ because she knew what (the customer) wanted on their sandwiches or pizza. They knew she cared that much about them.”
While they are walking away from the restaurant business, they remained hopeful that someone would buy the place and reopen it for the community. Roger Parker said numerous times that the restaurant was still doing well and that business was strong.
“We love this business, it’s still doing very well,” Roger Parker said. “We hate to let it go, but we have to go on and have some sort of life.”
“At some point, it became all work and we forgot to live,” Robin Parker said.
As for what’s next for the pair, Roger Parker is recovering from back and knee surgeries over the past few years, though he mentioned that he was a registered nurse and could go back to doing that.
Robin Parker, meanwhile, said she would take some time off before getting a job in a new field, outside of the restaurant business.
“Georgetown doesn’t always like change, but change isn’t always a bad thing,” Robin Parker said.