The minute Joyce Mongello walked into the Blue Parrot Tea Room & Cafe many years ago, she knew it was the place for her.
“This place is so you,” said her mother during their first visit.
Soon that observation will seem like a prophecy, since Mongello will take over ownership of the business, owned since 1995 by Riverside residents Paul and Rose Dabrowski. The transfer will take place as soon as final details are wrapped up. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.
Mongello, a former Riverside resident, currently works as a manager for customer service at an Elmhurst contract furniture dealership. Although she’s operated a small catering business for “a couple of years,” this will be her first venture into the restaurant business.
“I’ve always dreamed of owning a coffeehouse or cafe,” Mongello said. “I knew I really wanted this and was going to do whatever it took to pursue it.”
The Blue Parrot, 31 Forest Ave. in downtown Riverside, will not only retain its name, according to Mongello, but its menu as well.
“The menu already has a following, so to speak,” Mongello said. “I will add some of my own pastries, and plan to add salads to the menu.”
She also said the business would retain its breakfast/lunch hours, maybe opening a bit sooner, at 6 a.m. instead of 7 a.m. to catch more of the commuter traffic. In the “near future” Mongello said she’d like to offer a Sunday brunch, and hasn’t ruled out dinner service on the weekends, saying “that’s a long-term goal.”
It’s unclear whether the restaurant will close at any time during the ownership transition. Mongello, who will leave her job of over seven years to take over the reins of the Blue Parrot, said that she’d like to have things change as seamlessly as possible, but a short hiatus might happen as she assembles her staff.
Mongello’s husband, Mario, will likely lend a hand at the restaurant in the summer months; he’s band director at Winston Campus Elementary and Junior High in northwest suburban Palatine. The couple lives in Villa Park.
Paul Dabrowski said he expected the sale to be finalized in the next week or so, and that he and his wife, Rose, would be assisting in the transition.
“It’ll be the same great food with new smiling faces,” Paul Dabrowski said.
The Dabrowskis decided to sell the business in part because they are contemplating a move to Buffalo, N.Y. to be nearer to Rose’s parents.
“I thought the Blue Parrot would never be up for sale,” Mongello said. “I always thought I’d have to start fresh.”