Here is one of those stories that starts out with, “Henry was so mad!” when I’m telling someone in real life, and then it takes 30 minutes to get to the part that made Henry mad.
So a few months ago, maybe the end of May, beginning of June, I was walking down Brookline Boulevard when I noticed that the old BBQ joint had newspaper taped to the windows, with coffee cups and burgers hand-drawn all over. There were also random “P”s drawn on it, and a word bubble that said, “Coming soon.”
I was mildly excited, but really how often do I patronize any Brookline establishments? I figured it was going to be another meat place, because that’s all that seems to ever go into that one spot. BBQ meat. Southern soul meat. Meat meat. Whatever the latest meat trend is.
But then one day as I walking by, I was looking at those “P”s and I thought to myself, “THOSE Ps LOOK FAMILIAR.” It eventually occurred to me that it looked similar to the font used by this sandwich shop in Dormont that Chooch and I like.
“CHOOCH, I THINK PARKER’S IS OPENING A LOCATION ON BROOKLINE BLVD,” I screamed to him as I flung open the front door, all out of breath from my courageous journey home to desperately deliver to him this wild speculation.
Chooch was excited, because we love Parker’s! But we still weren’t sure this was a thing that was happening. I kept stalking them on social media until finally, weeks and weeks after my first Velma-in-an-orange-turtleneck hunch, there was an official announcement on their Facebook page that they were moving to a larger location in Brookline. I love being right! Save me a seat in the Mystery van, yo.
This commenced a summer-long waiting game. The “coming soon” was never replaced with a date, but eventually, two peep holes were made in the newspaper on the windows, into which Chooch and I peered around cupped hands, like two little orphans hungrily ogling a porridge shop.
“You guys are pathetic,” Henry sighed, not giving in to any peeping desires.
“We love Parker’s!” Chooch yelled.
“You wouldn’t understand!” I spat. “You’ve never been there!”
“Well, you two have only been there like three times and act like you’re regulars there,” Henry tried to reason but I saw right this and determined that HE’S JUST JEALOUS. HATERS GON’ HATE. SHAKE IT OFF.
“Twice, actually,” I said, and Henry just threw his arms up to the Heavens and walked away in defeat.
I don’t really know why Chooch and I had only gone to Parker’s twice though, because we really enjoyed our experience there: the sandwiches (with pop culture-friendly names, like the Regina George, Shooter McGavin, Piano Necktie…), the ambiance (group convos galore!), and most importantly: the proprietor, Parker himself. Every time (ALL TWO TIMES) Chooch and I were there, he looped us into the counter conversation and made us feel like we were a part of something.
Being included in the reindeer games is basically all I want out of life, so this made Parker’s extremely appealing to me.
And yet, we only went twice. I think it was mostly because we usually eat out for dinner, and Parker’s is one of those joints that closes early, like at 3pm. And on weekends, if we’re going out for lunch, we’re already out and about in some other area, not in our neighborhood.
And it’s not like the old Parker’s was so out of the way. It was actually probably the same distance away from our house as the new one is. Brace yourselves for my super high-quality map that I drew today at my desk specifically to illustrate to…someone, I hope…exactly where my house is in relation to each location:
The first time Chooch and I went to Parker’s was Black Friday, 2014, and then a year later with Janna.
Two whole times. But you’d think we ate there so much, they named a grilled cheese after us. Or at the very least that Parker kept my senior picture in his wallet like my favorite waitress from Denny’s did when I was in high school. Oh, Maryann.
I was off two Fridays ago, because that’s the day we left for Chicago (much later in the day than planned, though). I went for a walk that morning and saw some people going into Parker’s! I rubbernecked on my way past and sure enough, the lights were on and there people at some of the tables! Some broad from the deli next door was outside smoking a cigarette.
“Looks like they’re finally open!” she said in the expected husky bray of a Pittsburgh smoker. “I been waiting all summer for this!”
“Did you ever eat there when it was in Dormont?” I asked.
“No, I never even heard of it before!” she coughed.
“It’s so good!” I said, calling on my old telemarketer’s enthusiasm (I was a fucking excelsior telemarketer back in the day). “And the guy who owns it is so nice!”
The broad said she was even more excited to check it out now, and I waited until she was out of earshot to call Henry and giddily tell him this transgression.
“YOU ONLY ATE THERE TWICE!” he yelled.
Sadly, we were gone that whole weekend, and since they close at 3 every day, we didn’t get a chance to check out the new digs until this past weekend. I was SO EXCITED to wake up Sunday morning and walk there.
“Wow, you and Chooch must be so happy to visit your old stomping grounds,” Henry said, tufts of sarcasm unfurling from his flaring nostrils.
I mean, yeah. Yeah, we were.
We were practically skipping, locked arms, with a rainbow underfoot.
We walked in around 9am and I was totally floored by the design of the space. It is DOPE. Exactly the type of place that Brookline needs! I was still in the middle of looking all around and silently saying, “WOOOOOOOOOW” when the man himself, Luke Parker, came out from behind the counter and said to Chooch and me, “Where the hell have you guys been?!”
LOL HENRY WAS SO MAD! All that build-up, acting like we were regulars, and the owner actually remembered us! Henry was like, “HOW. HOW HOW HOW.” Oh my friends, it was so satisfying! He even came over and talked to us (i.e. just me and Chooch) about the trials and tribs of moving to this new spot, adding to the menu, needing to hire more people — it sounds like the first week was a success and they haven’t even had their official grand opening yet, as far as I could tell. I’m so glad for the whole Parker clan!
“You two must have really made an impression,” Henry mumbled.
Somehow, the breakfast sandwich I ordered tasted even better than I remembered: egg whites, avocado, sprouts, tomato and mayo on a whole wheat bagel. Plus a cup of delicious Zeke’s coffee, which I spilled over myself because I didn’t have the lid on right and Henry was all, “Haha, serves you right.” I’d last through approximately one coffee order if I ever got a job as a barista.
I’m excited to frequent this place more often, especially now that it’s in an area where I do most of my walking. Even if I’m just popping in for a cup of coffee. I want this place to succeed so badly. I’m going to bring all my friends here. Who wants to go?
I’d tell you that if you ever stop there for a pop culture sandwich, to tell ’em that Erin & Chooch sent ya, but we’re not on a name-knowing basis there yet.
I’m not giving up on my grilled cheese namesake dream. My goals are askew.