Yarmouth Puts The Spotlight On…..Captain Parker’s Pub

Yarmouth Puts The Spotlight On…..Captain Parker’s Pub

It’s a bright and sunny winter day here in West Yarmouth and I have the pleasure of sitting down with Gerry Manning, owner of Captain Parker’s Pub.

Captain Parker's Pub Owned by Gerry Manning

 

 

 

 

 

 

April: How did Captain Parker’s Pub come to be?

 

Gerry: I was a teacher up in Boston but I’d always wanted to start my own restaurant, to have a place I could call my own.  In 1981 a friend called me about this property for sale in West Yarmouth with a great view on Parker’s River, I could imagine a captain with a ship so Captain Parker’s was actually an easy name.  I intended it to be a seasonal business but once we got going we realized we had a year round business….and we’ve never looked back.  30+ years later and I’m grateful to say, we’re still holding strong.  We’ve added on and expanded but it’s still that same building with the river view.

 

 

 

 

April: Your chowder has won many awards and has seen its share of celebrity attention.  Tell us about it.

 

Gerry: I always said two things when I started; the beer has to be really, really cold and we have to have great chowder.  The first was very simple, but chowder is a surprisingly difficult food. I had a great chef and we worked on a recipe and came up with something thick and creamy we liked.

 

April: So how long did it take to perfect the recipe? If I was here in 86’ would I be eating the same chowder today as I did then?

 

Gerry: Oh sure, we really had it down probably in 1982. Since then its really been about evolving the technique more than anything.  The vegetable and potatoes have to be cooked perfectly, the base needs to be just so.  We use only fresh local ingredients, chopped sea clams…. fresh, fresh, fresh.

 

April: So beyond the chowder. I set down to your table, what do I eat?

 

Gerry: Well we know we can’t be everything to everyone, but we try to do the best we can.  Our broiled scrod is the next best seller. It’s very good.

 

April: Really though, as the owner you can only eat so much chowder, what do you eat?

 

Gerry: Chicken Marsala. In fact I really love all our sautéed dishes.  Our chowder and seafood bring people in but there’s usually at least one person in a party that doesn’t eat seafood. Our sautéed dishes and our prime rib are excellent.

 

April: So what do you think really made Captain Parker’s stand out?

 

Gerry: The chowder festivals really helped.  For years my team kept getting on me to enter.  Finally in 1998 we entered the Cape Cod Chowder Festival for the first time – and we won.  They were so excited.  The team was really into it.  It was A LOT of work to do right. We really gave it 100% for every one of those.  Lots of hours and lots of investment in, but done right they paid off.

 

April: Would you recommend your peers, say a baker, enter into contests like this if available?

 

Gerry: Oh yes, whatever exposure you can get.  Well, that is you have to be confident you have a really great product and can win! The Cape Cod festival attracts about 3,000 people, which is pretty amazing, Boston was about 12,000 people and Newport has about 20,000. The marketing and word of mouth that comes with winning even one award like that, is huge for a small business like ours.

 

April: And you won them all.

 

Gerry: Yes, we have really done well with those over the years and they brought so much exposure.  From there it led to what was a great run with the Food Network.  Rachel Ray came and featured our chowder in one of her books.  We even have a Jeopardy question, which is fun.

 

April: So how have you managed to stay relevant this long?

 

Gerry: It’s a delicate balance I think.  We have to keep changing but not too much. We have people that come back yearly to visit Cape Cod and always come here.  They need to feel comfortable, like they know us. We’re known for all the patches on our walls.  It’s funny, if people come back and their patch is moved, they want to know where it is!

Patches, Captain Parkers, Yarmouth MA, Cape Cod  Golf Balls, Captain Parker's Pub, Yarmouth MA, Cape Cod

 

 

 

 

 

Really we just try to offer great food at a reasonable price, but even that wouldn’t be enough.  I think what’s made this a welcoming place over the years is our staff.  My wife and I try hard to make this a place that people want to work at.  And they do.  We have people that have worked here 10, 15, 20 years, and not just a couple of them.  Our “rookie” bartender has been here 16 years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

April: So what is new then?

 

Gerry: Well ever since we opened the place I’ve wanted to have an outdoor patio.  Last summer we finally saw that come to fruition.  It’s a great space to enjoy a meal and take in the beautiful view and we’re really excited about it’s potential.  We’re still working on an awning system to keep people comfortable in the sun, all the details are important but that’s probably our biggest change.  We also just introduced a tapas menu for the bar.  Our goal is for our chowder to be a meal in itself if you want, but the tapas menu is a nice compliment for those that want a little more without a huge meal.

 

April: What would surprise me about Captain Parker’s?

 

Gerry: All the romance.

 

April: Did you say romance?

 

Gerry: Oh yes, lots of romance has started here over the years.  I won’t name names but we have people that have met here as employees, married, and now have children.  It’s been quite a surprise to see, especially with employees who work here as long as ours do.

 

April: What else might the average person not know?

 

Gerry: Well for the beer lovers out there, Sam Adams makes a special brew just for Captain Parker’s.  It’s called Ocean Ale.

Sam Adams Ocean Ale, Sam Adams Beer for Captain Parker's

 

 

 

 

April: Ok that’s pretty neat.

 

Gerry: Yeah we think so too. We’ve always had a great relationship with Sam Adams.  We’ve also served Cape Cod Beer since the beginning.  I’ll tell you when Todd (the owner) carried the beer in himself I said “gees if he’ll carry his own beer, I’ll buy from him.”

 

April: So what advice do you have for your other Chamber Members?

 

Gerry: Oh well I don’t know that I’m qualified to give advice but for us our community is vital. It all comes back to the locals.  We have to be a place locals want to frequent.  When a tourist comes into town and asks the receptionist at the hotel or the person doing their nails where to eat, we want them to say Captain Parker’s.  Word of mouth is still the best advertising hands down and that comes back to our local community.  We serve them well and they’ll serve us well.

 Bar at Captain Parker's Pub

 

 

 

 

April: So it seems everyone these days always wants bigger and better. How have you not given in to that temptation to expand locations or sell your chowder to a name brand company?

 

Gerry: You know every year about this time someone comes to me with an idea for expansion, a second location or a way to sell off our chowder.  And you do get really excited.  You like to think you have a great business, that you could weather the storms and still come out ahead and stay grounded.  In all honesty though, this is a tough business.  People want more for less and you want to be able to give that to them.  In the end I’ve been happy just like this.  I’m happy with the expansion of the patio and what that will do for us.  And we have expanded a bit, you can now get Captain Parker’s Chowder in local grocery stores.  You have to really live this business, it’s as demanding as it is rewarding. I’m happy just like this. Captain Parker’s is a special place with great people behind it; I’m happy with that.

 

April: The crowd is picking up, I need to let you go. Any parting juicy details you can leave me with that no one else knows?

 

Gerry: Just how grateful we are for the locals and for programs like what you’re doing here. Every dollar put into promoting Yarmouth is a dollar well spent…. And well now that you mention it there is something else I’ve been thinking about that could be coming along.  Nothing like a second location or anything but exciting just the same.  {insert teacher’s voice from Charlie Brown as Gerry tells me what he’s working on!}

 

April: But I can’t mention that though?

 

Gerry: Not yet.  I’ll let you know if and when you can release that to your followers.

Captain Parker's, West Yarmouth, Cape Cod, Gerry Manning

So there you go folks.  You’ll just have to stay tuned for an update.  You can post your guesses on what this news might be (or you’d like it to be) in the comments below and check back often for updates. Until then…. my lips are sealed!

See you soon for the next edition of Spotlight On…

~April

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