- The restaurant rumor mill has been in overdrive since news that the Blue Parrot would be reopening this summer first hit the streets this January. Since the Parrot last shut its doors at the end of the summer season in 2006, the fate of East Hampton's beloved local bar and Mexican joint has been a subject of much speculation. Ralph Lauren
was said to have acquired the lease and there was nervous talk that he was going to turn it into a retail store or the east coast's answer to The Ivy.
Managing partner Andrew Chapman.
Thankfully, after three years of silence, the space loved for its casual atmosphere, eclectic décor and famed Margaritas served in mason jars will return to The Hamptons scene just the way it was remembered by early June.
Despite having to push the planned opening date back a couple weeks, managing partner Andrew Chapman
, who will be managing the restaurant day to day, feels that the wait will be well worth it. "My approach is that when it's ready it's ready. I'm not going to open the place until I've run through every item on the menu and I know that it will meet everyone's standards. Right now we're just finishing up some little things like design, and we have some planting to do, touching up the website, things like that. Nothing good is rushed. I'm going to make sure that when we open that everyone will sit down and be very pleasantly surprised."
The surprise will most likely come from the fact that those who remember the Blue Parrot, will see that little has changed when it does reopen. Chapman and the other partners are committed to keeping everything as close to it was as possible. "We've tried to recreate it as close to what it was, but then again nothing is exactly the same. There are a couple of different fixtures here and there, we had to get new chairs and tables, we painted the walls, put in some banquettes, we just kind of fixed it up a little bit, but we haven't made any big changes," said Chapman during an interview. "We're still going to show surfing videos, we're still going to serve drinks out of the same mason jars and the cowboy boot shot glasses. Will it be exactly
the same, no it won't be. Will it be really close to it and maybe improved in some ways, absolutely."
While Chapman wouldn't confirm the rumors
that Jon Bon Jovi
, Renee Zellweger
and Larry Gagosian
are among the much speculated group of silent investors, he did say that Ronald Perelman
, multi-millionaire investor, part-time East Hampton resident, and Blue Parrot fan is one of the principals in the reopening. "If there is anyone to thank for bringing the Blue Parrot back it's Ron. Everyone talks about the Blue Parrot and how it was such a staple for East Hampton and I think that was something that he wanted to bring back to the community," Chapman related. "All of the silent partners were patrons of the Blue Parrot. They loved it for what it was and they didn't want to see it become something else. Everyone is worried that we're going to come in there and change everything up and make it all fancy. That really couldn't be farther from the truth. We really want to recreate the Blue Parrot in the same spirit and essence that it always had."
"All of a sudden you'll see that the door is open and there is music playing and that's it. This is a local's favorite bar and that's how we're going to treat it." claims Chapman.
When asked about the reason behind keeping the names of the other investors quiet, Chapman explained that it was to keep the focus on the Blue Parrot and not have the names or the achievements of the people involved in its revival overshadowing the restaurant. "The only thing that everyone wanted was to open the Blue Parrot, make it fun and bring it back the way it was. It had nothing to do with gaining attention or making it one more of these elitist kinds of places. For people to put attention towards the names of the silent partners, we feel is a bit of a distraction from what we're trying to do, which is to preserve the legacy of the Blue Parrot. It wasn't about glitz or pretense and it won't be now. That was the message that I communicated to the partners and I was very delighted to hear that it was exactly how they felt as well."
Once the restaurant is up and running, Chapman says that the names of the investors will most likely be disclosed, but until then mum is the word. "When the time is right it will be known but at this point they prefer to be silent."
It makes a certain amount of sense. Those who remember the Blue Parrot remember it as a place where everyone was welcome and nobody was more important than anybody else. It was a place where locals and visitors could come, sit down, have a margarita or a Pacifico and grab a bite to eat without any hassle. That's exactly why both the silent partners and the community fell in love with the place and that's exactly how it's going to stay.
In order to make sure that when the Blue Parrot reopens it'll be just as everyone remembered, Chapman, who knew the restaurant during its heyday, says that he's been talking with former patrons and staff, asking them what they liked best about the establishment and doing a lot of listening.
"We're not trying to make a big buzz about this place," explains Chapman. "As soon as everything is ready, one day you're just going to see it open. We're not going to have a big announcement when we open; we feel that's anti-Blue Parrot, that's not what it's all about. All of a sudden you'll see that the door is open and there is music playing and that's it. This is a local's favorite bar and that's how we're going to treat it."
Throughout the interview, Chapman reiterates that at the Blue Parrot, the emphasis is really going to be on the local community. To that end, he has designated every Tuesday, "Dirty Bird Tuesday" and will be serving local produce, meat and seafood from local farms and purveyors.
"We want to make the Blue Parrot the neighborhood place that really looks out after the locals and the community. On Tuesdays we'll be doing something called "Dirty Bird Tuesdays" where anyone who can show that they're local will get a little stamp and get discounted beers and food. There will also be a certain kind of tee-shirt that only they can buy on a Tuesday. All the proceeds from any of the merchandise we sell will go to Pikes Farm, Quail Hill Farm
, The Peconic Land Trust
and local charities. That's stuff we're really excited about doing."
In order to make sure that when the Blue Parrot reopens it'll be just as everyone remembered, Chapman, who knew the restaurant during its heyday, says that he's been talking with former patrons and staff, asking them what they liked best about the establishment and doing a lot of listening. "One thing that I've done is talk to a lot of people and asked them 'how do you remember the Blue Parrot? What did you love best about it, or what do you think we can improve on?' I've gotten a lot of feedback and I take that really seriously in terms of the approach that we're taking in reopening it," he states. "It was someplace you could go whether you were wearing pants or if you just came from the beach - it didn't matter. Everyone was welcome, the food was reasonably priced, and that's really what the Blue Parrot was about. It's just your favorite neighborhood place where everybody could meet up."
Chapman knows a thing or two about running a neighborhood establishment, which is part of the reason why he feels Perelman chose him to manage the Parrot. "I have a small restaurant in the city called August and it's a neighborhood restaurant meaning the staff knows the patrons by name and knows what they like. I love that feeling in a restaurant and that's the kind of spirit I'm hoping to bring to the Blue Parrot. We're hiring local people and former employees that are already known by the community because we want everyone to feel that it's the same as it always was."
It's an exciting prospect to think that for the first time in three years, the little corner establishment tucked just off Main Street behind the tony stores that East Hampton is now known for, will once again cater to the people who knew, loved and missed times spent with friends at the Blue Parrot, and Chapman and his partners can be counted among those anxious to put the salted rim of a mason jar to their lips. "I'm very grateful for this opportunity to be able to bring the Blue Parrot back because this place means a great deal to a lot of people, it's not just some bar."
Those of us who remember couldn't agree more.