There’s more to running a successful bar or restaurant than great food and drinks. Nowadays, it’s more important than ever to differentiate your establishment and offer a little something extra to keep guests coming back.
Tommy Parisi of Brightside Tavern has mastered the art of the "little something extra." Known to many as “Tommy 2 Scoops” from his earlier days of running a gelato shop, Tommy’s up-tempo and people-loving personality is perfectly translated into the vibe he creates for his guests in Jersey City, NY.
Tommy purchased the 100-year-old building with the vision of turning it into “the place” for all kinds of people. Four years later, the building was transformed into the Brightside Tavern—complete with a 70-foot addition that maintains the look of the original brick, an underground kitchen, party rooms with high ceilings, and a large rectangular bar with two oversized
TV screens at each end. “It’s kind of Cheers-like,” describes Tommy. “It’s very comfortable.”
From gospel meetings to drag shows—and a menu that satisfies all kinds of cravings—there truly is something for everyone at Brightside Tavern. Tommy prides himself on creating a warm, inviting experience, “We do a lot of things to make people feel comfortable,” he says, “probably eighty per cent of my guests know me or my staff.”
One of the ways Tommy and his staff create a friendly vibe is by using the screens as a music and entertainment system to celebrate and engage with their guests.
For example, if you’re ever visiting the Brightside Tavern, ask them to tell you the story about “Tommy at the Apollo.”
18 years ago Tommy Parisi was a guest on Showtime at the Apollo, where he performed his rendition of Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World.” Since then, Tommy has been affectionately known around Jersey City as “the guy who sang on Showtime at the Apollo.”
Over the years, Tommy’s learned that his guests love hearing the story so much, he loaded the video footage of his performance into his Control Play music video player—now guests can request the song and he can queue up the video whenever he tells the story to a new visitor.
“It’s become kind of a running joke around here,” laughs Tommy. “The staff hear the song and say, ‘Ahhh not Tommy again!’ The guests love it, they’re in on the joke and they feel right at home.”
Parisi and his staff also love to announce birthdays, special events and recognize customer milestones. “We just had a family come in to celebrate a graduation,” Tommy starts, “we got talking, and then before you know it, they hand me a flash drive and we start showing the graduation photos on one of our TV screens. A lot of people come in for one meal, but feel so at home, they hang out for a while—and often times they end up staying for another course.”
Tommy credits the flexibility and control he has over his music and entertainment as a big reason he’s able to provide a personalized guest experience, “If we have a group come in for an event and then all of sudden they feel like having a dance party, we change up the music and have a dance party,” says Tommy. “I really enjoying seeing people have a good time. I love creating that vibe.”
It’s that homey, friendly, something for everyone type of atmosphere that makes Brightside tavern appeal to a wide range of patrons, from kids to seniors and everyone in-between.
“You know how everyone has their ‘place’? I love creating that. There’s nothing I love more than hearing that Brightside Tavern is someone’s ‘place.’”
To learn more about the Brightside Tavern, visit brightsidetavern.com
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