The Blue Parrot Tearoom and Cafe, a popular downtown Riverside eatery and village meeting spot, is up for sale its owner, Paul Dabrowski, confirmed Monday. According to Dabrowski, the cafe has received a good deal of interest from prospective buyers and that he hopes that a deal may be reached within the next two months.
“We gave the building management two months’ notice, which will take us to Sept. 30,” Dabrowski said. “We’re not absolutely fixed on that. We’re not in a rush, but ideally we’d like to get someone in there and trained as soon as possible.”
Several factors played into the Dabrowskis decision to sell the restaurant, but the most important one is the fact that Paul and Rose Dabrowski are contemplating moving to Buffalo, N.Y. to be nearer to Rose’s parents.
“We’ve been making a lot of trips there,” Dabrowski said. “That’s the most driving reason.”
Rose Dabrowski and Barbara Purdy opened the Blue Parrot in 1995 at 31 Forest Ave., just west of the historic water tower in Riverside. According to Paul Dabrowski, they had been looking for a space informally for a couple of years prior in LaGrange, but settled on a former doctor’s office in Riverside. As fate would have it, the space was originally home to a tearoom called the Blue Parrot until 1942.
“We set out to make it a meeting place in Riverside and it worked,” Paul Dabrowski said. “For us it’s been a lot of fun. The biggest disappointment is leaving a place which had been a home away from home for us, and all the wonderful people we’ve met.”
While the Blue Parrot was known for its sandwiches and homemade soups, the business went through a variety of phases. In an early one, the cafe served as a coffeehouse and would host live music and poetry readings.
By May 2004, Aaron Dabrowski chucked a job with a Chicago restaurant to start a Saturday night fine dining concept called Bistro Blu, a reservations-only prix fixe menu. He later expanded the “blu” concept, adding a “Blu Plate” dinner carryout during the week and a “Blu Brunch” on Sunday mornings.
But in May 2005, Aaron Dabrowski left the Blue Parrot for a job at Tru, one of Chicago’s top restaurants on the Near North side of the city. It was an offer he couldn’t pass up.
“He was anxious to get back downtown and into a big kitchen,” Paul Dabrowski said. “He loved it, and the experience he gained was invaluable.”
Dabrowski said he hopes that a buyer would be able to maintain the cafe’s menu, and added that there’s other potential for a new buyer, specifically expanding dinner service and implementing a catering business.
Even without tapping those aspects, Dabrowski said the business continued to grow every year.
“It was a lot of work,” Dabrowski said, “but a lot of fun.”