Parker's Pub/VisitingNewEngland small business partnership - Local Small Business Stories
Parker's Pub in Wrentham, Mass.: A Hidden Gem Southwest of Boston
A detailed story on this friendly neighborhood pub owned by two locals who grew up in the town
Roasted garlic Parmesan wings from Parker's Pub.
Article and photos, unless otherwise noted, by Eric Hurwitz.
created on 9/4/2021.
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For a new restaurant, Parker's Pub somehow feels like an old friend.
Maybe that's because many people in the area know Wrentham
natives and Parker's Pub owners Ed Moran and T.J. Gianfrancesco. Both attended and graduated
King Philip High School. Ed served as baseball coach of that high
school team for more than two decades. He also manages the Wrentham
American Legion Post 225. T.J.'s dad, Tom Gianfrancesco owned the
legendary Tom's Tavern (now The
Tavern at Wrentham), well-known for its fresh seafood, excellent drinks
selection and New England
Patriots sightings -- many of the players were regulars. In his
T.J. could be seen working in the open kitchen at Tom's Tavern. After
Tom's Tavern, T.J. opened the Black Rock Cafe (now James' Breakfast and
and later took helm in the kitchen at The Gavel Public House in
Wrentham. T.J. helped
make improvements to The Gavel, a restaurant with lots of promise but a
needed culinary direction. That restaurant is now a staple of downtown
Meanwhile, away from the downtown and out in the Midwest-like open
scenic Mirror Lake, Connie's Rustic Kitchen, unfortunately,
closed several months ago and the building at 303 Shears St was put on
the auction block, Ed and T.J. inquired about opening a restaurant
after an initial sale fell through.
Open fields approaching Parker's Pub.
Fortunately, Ed and T.J. found themselves owning a restaurant by
opening Parker's Pub several months later in April 2019.
"We had no hesitation in doing this," said Ed. "We didn't want to be
anything fancy and this restaurant fit the bill. T.J. is amazing in the
kitchen. We know a lot of people in town and we have a super staff. We
have been getting the crowds. People want a good neighborhood pub and
that's what we are."
The bar at Parker's Pub.
In just a few short months, Parker's Pub has brought in up to
300 people on peak nights. A huge wings menu with 30 sauce
and seasoning options takes the food spotlight here -- and rightfully
so, with some of the
best tasting wings in the Boston area. Locals, however, also love the
selections (more on that shortly). Acoustic music fills the air on
Friday nights while conversations saturate the hometown pub then and
all the other times of the week for lunch and dinner.
"We want it to be a fun place," said Ed. "A place to laugh, tap to the
music, have fun together. We've got to keep it like that. Friends,
family, owner all laughing and no yelling from anyone. There are no
Ed and T.J. didn't feel the need to change the
Parker's Pub that much, thanks to some nice renovations by Connie's
Kitchen and its predecessor, Mr. Dooley's Pub. The gleaming wood
floors, alternatively high and low ceilings with some post and beam
elements, booths and handsome bar
provide a comfortable
setting in the main area.
Bar and restaurant sections at Parker's Pub.
The alcove in the main dining area -- which used
to feature a cozy sitting area at Connie's -- gets a fun makeover at
with a table hockey game...
Hockey game at Parker's Pub.
For those that like things a little more quiet away from the bar,
Parker's features a sunny separate dining room...
Separate dining room at Parker's Pub.
Ed and T.J. seem like the perfect team to run a local neighborhood
restaurant. Ed is laid back and personable -- like the kind of neighbor
holds the best cookouts and has the easy going personality to make
everyone feel good. He most recently served as a bartender and general
manager at Napper Tandy's in Millis, Mass. There, he worked for owner
John Jacob, one of the most capable and decent people in the industry.
His presence provided great direction for Ed.
"John is such a great guy," said Ed, 49. "I wouldn't have been able to
run a restaurant without the experience I got at Nappers and working
T.J. and Ed at Parker's Pub.
T.J. is more intense and direct, but a Type A
personality with a heart of
gold and a sharp sense of humor. You could see T.J's intensity
and skill at his dad's restaurant and just as much at his
own dining spot. His skill comes through hard work as he spent more
time in the kitchens than at culinary school.
"Yeah, I attended Johnson and Wales (University in Providence) but
didn't stay too long," said T.J. "I thought I was smarter than them.
That was a mistake.
There are some things I'd like to have back and do differently but,
fortunately, things have worked out all right."
Ed and T.J. initially tried to come up with a few names for the
restaurant, but quickly settled on Parker's -- named after T.J.'s
nine-year-old son, Parker.
Outside at Parker's Pub.
"That was a no brainer," said T.J. "Yeah, we are not big thinkers.
Oops, there's a great quote for you. We are not big thinkers. Oh well,
you know what I mean. It was the best thing to do naming the restaurant
Parker has not taken his local celebrity status lightly.
"He is the biggest fan," said T.J. "At the last parent-teacher conference, the teacher knew more about the restaurant than me."
The Menu: Giving The People What They Want
Parker's Pub has not tried to reinvent the restaurant wheel.
Ed and T.J. agree that keeping things simple yields the
For validation of a selection that appeals to the heart, soul and taste
buds of a comfort food fan, check out Parker's menu here...
The big orange-yellow colored menu certainly looks familiar: wings and
appetizers, spuds, burgers, sandwiches, salads, pub pizza and main
entrees. As previously mentioned, the chicken wings take the menu
spotlight with farm fresh wings
cooked until crispy and then tossed with one of 30-plus signature
sauces. The wings impart a superior taste and even better than many of
the long-established restaurants specializing in this popular chicken
dish. Ed and T.J. have covered all bases when it
comes to the sauces -- from sweet and mild to savory to sweat-inducing
Burgers are also a highlight, 1/4 lb. of Angus meat cooked on a
flat top. The Plympie
Burger gets extra points for two reasons. First, it is named after Jeff
Plympton who pitched for the Boston Red Sox in 1991 (0.00 ERA in
five-plus innings of work!) and is now the Recreation Director for the
Town of Wrentham. For the burger fan, the Plympie Burger outdoes the
most famous trendy urban burger bars with its juicy taste, sharp
Vermont cheddar cheese, barbecue sauce, fire roasted peppers,
onion and sesame seed bun.
Like all other burgers, it can be ordered as a single or a double.
The Plympie Burger with tater tots from Parker's Pub.
Parker's Pub also features burger specials like the Chara Burger
(named after the Boston Bruins star), a three quarter lb. Angus burger
with three slices of bacon, onion rings and American cheese, chipotle
barbecue sauce and honey mustard all accompanied with waffle fries.
The Chara Burger special.
Photo source: Parker's
Pub Facebook fan page.
The pizza is phenomenal with light, fluffy foccaccia bread, San
Marzano tomatoes and a three-cheese blend. It's unlike any other pizza
this writer has tasted, in the best sense, with an appealing mix of
crunchiness, tangy tomato sauce, a just-right cheese taste and fresh
toppings. Here is an absolutely delicious Parker's pub pizza with
onions, roasted peppers and shaved steak...
Delicious pizza from Parker's Pub.
The salads are made fresh and with innovation as in the case of
The Italian Stallion. This mammouth dish includes mixed greens,
heirloom tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and a garlic-balsamic glaze. It is
accompained by two pieces of grilled garlic toast...
Saturdays feature the New York strip sirloin that begs the
questions: Why bother pay twice the amount at a high end steak house?
Sirloin strip special from Parker's Pub. Photo source: Parker's
Pub Facebook fan page.
Another extra special special: the mouthwatering braised short ribs with flavorful cheddar cheese mashed potatoes. The tender short ribs -- marinated in wine for several hours -- are about the best I have ever tasted!
Braised short ribs special from Parker's Pub.
The bar features a nice selection of beers, wines and cocktails, as
well as genuine conversations between the bartenders and patrons.
Guindon accommodates the customer with the perfect mix of
friendliness and drink creations skills...
Kelly Guindon works the bar at Parker's Pub.
Here is a recent drinks list from Parker's...
Additionally, while Parker's doesn't have a children's menu and a dedicated dessert
menu, it is definitely family-friendly.
"We are aiming toward the adult crowd," said T.J. "We don't have a kids
menu, no crayons and stuff like that. But we are welcoming to families.
We have things on the menu that everyone likes no matter what age."
Windowbox outside Parker's Pub.
The commitment to owning a new restaurant results in
some significant lifestyle changes. Ed no longer has the time to fully
enjoy the aquatic benefits of his lakeside home. T.J.
tries to balance home life with a young son and the rigors of
working the kitchen and co-owning Parker's Pub.
So, why open a restaurant in the first place? The answer is
simple: Ed and T.J. love their hometown, the restaurant industry and
serving family, friends and neighbors while welcoming newcomers
near and far.
Somewhere tonight, locals in small towns and big cities will
be chowing down on burgers and wings and enjoying a beer or two. No
matter the size of the community, the camaraderie yields friendships,
laughs, sense of community, stories told and the chance to let someone
else do the cooking. In Wrentham, Parker's Pub
is that place and they do as well as if not better than many highly
regarded neighborhood pubs in the metro Boston area.
Parker's Pub might not have a long established presence on
side, but on the other hand they most certainly do: Ed and T.J. have
things to Wrentham for decades in various chapters of their lives. Now,
the first chapter of Parker's Pub has begun and the story seems to be
unfolding beautifully. The location is great, too, not only for locals
but those shopping a few miles down the road at the Wrentham Outlets,
as well as those traveling Route 495 (also just minutes from Parker's
off Exit 15 onto Route 1A north).
As Ed looks across his new business with humble admiration,
his thoughts quickly go somewhere else. He is off to help his ailing
"I'll be back later," smiled Ed.
At that moment, "Aint Nothing Like the Real Thing," by Marvin
Gaye and Tami Terrell plays through the speakers. It couldn't have been
a more appropriate song to the soundtrack of a new restaurant that acts
like that proverbial old friend. Ed and
T.J. set the tone by keeping things so real. You feel like you've known
them forever and that's ultimately what
makes Parker's Pub so special. Oh, and the amazing burgers, wings and
other comfort foods, too!
"We want to be a pub first," said T.J. "That neighborhood place that
everyone knows and likes. It's going very well here."
Parker's Pub is located at 303 Shears
St., Wrentham, MA.
Tel. 774-210-8168. Log
onto the Parker's Pub Facebook Fan Page
Wrentham: If it's the weekend and
you're looking to do a little antiques and shabby chic shopping, head
on over to Winsmith
Mill Market in Norwood, Mass. Hundreds of vendors on a 27-acre
former tannery site!
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Abbey in Providence, R.I., is known for its burgers and beer
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