By Daniel Karell
A Georgetown icon is staying open, to the delight of its patrons.
Roger and Robin Parker, the owners of Parker’s Pizzeria in Georgetown, confirmed on September 8 that they’ve agreed to sell the restaurant for $80,000 to Wade and Lori Highlander, contingent on the approval of the restaurant’s liquor license moving to the new ownership.
According to Georgetown Mayor Dale Cahall, it’s up to Georgetown Village Council to declare whether they have any objection to the liquor license transfer, but in most cases village council declines to take action on license transfers.
For the Parkers, they said the next few weeks would be days filled with plenty of mixed emotions.
“I have mixed feelings,” Roger Parker said in a phone interview. “I just hope that they’re going to run it like we did. They are pretty energetic. We hope to be working with them soon.”
Added Robin Parker, “I’m excited for the restaurant and the town but it’s been a big part of my life for many years. It will be sad to see it go. I’ve worked there ever since I was a kid. That part will be sad but I’m kind of excited to be able to do something else.”
As long as the liquor license transfers over successfully, the Parkers will help the Highlanders run the restaurant until October 6, the first day after the restaurant takes its week-long fair break.
The Parkers said that the Highlanders don’t plan on changing anything with the restaurant’s interior or exterior design, and the Parkers sought to allay fears that the restaurant’s signature taste and sauces would change under the new ownership as well.
“They want to keep everything the same,” Robin Parker said. “They want to keep the history of it, because it has been a big part of the town for many years. They did say they were interested in keeping it the same as it’s always been. We’re going to try to make sure that happens.
“I know a lot of people were worried, saying ‘well Robin’s not cooking for me,’ but the cooks know everything too, and I really hope the town will give them a chance. We’ll be around for a while to give them a good start.”
Robin Parker confirmed that all the necessary health department inspections had been completed.
“I’m happy because the jobs that were there will still remain and the quality of food they serve will still be available for many people in the county that patronize the place,” Cahall said. “They’ve been an institution in Georgetown for several generations, so that’s good too.”
Last July, the Parkers announced that after five years of searching for a buyer, they were planning on closing their restaurant’s doors on August 1. News of their impending closure sent shock waves across the county and region, with many long-time patrons paying tribute, and others coming forward with serious offers to purchase the restaurant and keep it open.
After more than two months of negotiations, the Highlander’s offer emerged victorious and now only the liquor license is stopping Wade and Lori Highlander from becoming the newest Parker’s owners, after Roger and Robin and Burt and Gloria Parker, Roger’s parents.
For Wade Highlander, it’s been a busy 12 months. The president of a real estate company, he suffered tragedy last November when a gas leak led to an explosion and a fire in his Georgetown home, severely injuring his daughter Kilee Brookbank. Brookbank suffered severe burns all over her body and spent months recovering at Shriners Hospital for Children in Cincinnati.
Highlander has since been appointed to Georgetown village council and recently moved his family into a brand-new home on the location of the old home that went up in flames.
With the purchase of Parker’s, Highlander is ensuring that he keeps his roots deeply planted in Georgetown.
Reach Daniel Karell at 937-378-6161. Follow him on Twitter @GNDKarell