By Karen Hendricks | Photography by Casey Martin
It’s considered Gettysburg’s version of Cheers, the friendly neighborhood bar and restaurant “where everybody knows your name.” Known as The Blue Parrot Bistro for 28 years (1988-2016), the popular downtown Gettysburg eatery has been renamed simply The Parrot by new owners Gus Zucco and Hillary Styer-Zucco.
“It’s been an institution in Gettysburg since its days as the Blue Parrot Tea Room [in 1920],” says Styer-Zucco, “so we decided to keep part of the name to tie it to history.” Located just off Lincoln Square in the first block of Chambersburg Street, The Parrot has a colorful history—and an even brighter future, according to its new owners.
“Great Food and Great Atmosphere”
Zucco and Styer-Zucco are accustomed to roles. The Gettysburg husband and wife, part-time actors, are settling into new roles as first-time restaurant owners.
“Running a business together is a challenge,” says Styer-Zucco, “but we’re on the same wavelength with our vision for The Parrot, and we each have our roles…I’m very grateful for where I am in life—married to and working with my best friend.”
The couple met on the set of a [pilot]reality show in 2012, and while the show didn’t pan out, it brought them together. Zucco, 48, bitten by the acting bug 10 years ago, enjoyed a string of off-Broadway and television gigs to his credit, including AMC’s docudrama, “The Making of the Mob.” The New York City native previously worked in a restaurant, has dabbled in music, and built a 15-year career as a direct marketer.
Similarly, Styer-Zucco, 42, has worn a number of hats including screen printer and actor, with restaurant experience, and a degree in human development and family studies from Penn State, which she says comes in handy every day when working with people. Originally from nearby Huntington County, she’s lived in Gettysburg since 2003.
The couple launched their business ventures soon after their July 2014 marriage, first purchasing the Inn at Lincoln Square—which they still own and operate—followed by The Parrot in October 2016. “Ultimately, at our core, we’re both creative people,” says Zucco. “We look at the restaurant as an opportunity to extend our creativity.”
The Parrot received a facelift within their first year of ownership, including new flooring and a new bar, expanding the number of taps from five to 12, offering creative new cocktails and drink specials, and adding a regular lineup of live music. The second floor is being renovated into a private dining area. Some of The Parrot’s long-established traditions remain, including the showcasing of local artists’ artwork on the restaurant’s walls. “The Parrot is in line with who we are as people,” Zucco says. “It’s a place with great food and great atmosphere that’s supportive of the arts.”
“Fun, Simple, and Modern”
One of the biggest changes at The Parrot is the addition of Executive Chef Leo Tazza and his new menu. The 35-year-old chef, a native of Peru, has quite possibly one of the most impressive culinary resumes in Adams County.
“He’s very humble,” says Styer-Zucco, “but we’re super excited to have [Tazza] on board. He previously worked at some very high-profile restaurants—most recently, Little Nell in Aspen, Colo.” Tazza also worked at several of Philadelphia restaurateur Stephen Starr’s Florida restaurants—including Verde, in Miami.
He describes The Parrot’s new menu as “fun, simple, and modern with Asian influences and Peruvian twists.” One of his priorities is to utilize local growers. Meat and eggs, for example, originate from Weikert’s Egg Farm, Gettysburg; patio landscaping and an herb garden were created by Boyer Nurseries and Orchards, Biglerville.
Tazza says his goal with every dish is to create a reaction among guests—a “wow” factor. “You eat first with your eyes,” Tazza says, “so I like to bring out a plate and see that reaction.”
The Parrot’s new signature salad, The Parrot Salad, for example, features a base layer of dark green kale, topped with shaved, gem-colored carrots, beets, and radishes, finished with a refreshing lemon vinaigrette, and fun Parmesan crisps.
On the lunch menu, one of The Parrot’s traditional soups, Crab Bisque, is staying put. Meantime, the sandwich lineup is updated to include The Cuban, where Tazza’s talents truly shine. Mojo pork is marinated overnight, topped with pickles, mustard, Gruyere, and mayonnaise—and although Tazza could not locate a nearby Cuban bakery, he’s very happy with what he calls “a Pennsylvania classic—a Martin’s roll.”
Tazza spices up the menu with his Peruvian heritage. Under appetizers, his favorite dish from Peru, Causa, features a cold mashed potato terrine, topped with spicy crab salad and greens. For dinner eats, Salmon features seco—a Peruvian sauce; Grilled Chicken is served with a spicy aji amarillo (“yellow pepper”) sauce; and Bronzino fish is deboned but served whole—including the head.
Tazza says he is grateful to Zucco and Styer-Zucco for the opportunity to put his own stamp on The Parrot. “I moved to Gettysburg to be more of a father to my two daughters who live here,” Tazza says. “When you do good things, good things come to you.”
35 Chambersburg St., Gettysburg
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