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Parson's Restaurant, Glendale, Arizona


I like Parson's Restaurant. It's the kind of little place that I've always looked for when I moved into a new neighborhood. It's the kind of place that tourists never even see, and even locals mostly drive past. No, it's not the fanciest food in the world, but it's sincere.

The restaurant has been there since the mid-sixties, and Alan Parsons took it over in 1986. I don't know why I get such a big kick out of seeing the person whose name is on the sign of a restaurant, but I do. I guess it's because I've been to so many places with names that mean nothing. So when I see Alan, I say hello.

Unfortunately, when I first started going to Parson's it was in the bad old days when smoking was still allowed in restaurants in Arizona. I had moved from California in 1989, and so I had never had to deal with it, but it tends to take a long time for Arizona to catch up with California on stuff like that. And once the smoking ban kicked in, then Parson's became a place that someone like me could really love.

If you plan on going to Parsons, here are some suggestions:

• Turn into the parking lot from the west. The major cross-streets are 59th Avenue and Northern, but if you try to turn in from that direction, you're gonna have a bad time. Most buildings in my suburban Glendale have "easy-in/easy-out", but Parson's isn't one of them. If you try to turn in there from the wrong way you'll be blocking traffic, or going the wrong way into a turn lane. Yeah, I know it's a hassle, but locals know how to do it. I knew a lot of places like this in California that required a bit of careful strategy to get it, and mostly they were worth it.

• Go in, smile at someone, and sit down. There's no grand foyer at Parson's, just a door that goes past the cashier and into the seating area. I've rarely seen it congested there, but it is a pinch-point, so, uh, keep moving. It's an old building, but that being said...

• Don't worry, yes, it's accessible. I've been there with some of my senior citizen friends, and while driving into it is tricky, walking into it is wonderful. I myself have a gimpy ankle, and so I appreciate the fact that there are no steps, no ramps, no nothing. You just walk right in. I like that. I like sitting by the big window, which I call my "ocean view", which looks out on the street. If you sit too close to the door, by the way, keep in mind that you're gonna be pretty close to mother nature, if you know what I mean.

I love living in a small town. This helped a nervous person like me be comfortable in places like Los Angeles. So, no, I'm not Hollywood, I'm small town. I don't expect the chef to come out and hug me, like they do at the Sushi Bars in Studio City, but I like to be surrounded by friendly faces. I like Parson's.

Back in the 1960s, when Parsons was Big Sam's Burgers.



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