Peyman Pourpezeshk, owner of Parisa
Native of Iran
On how Parisa was started
I moved to Syracuse about twenty years ago because I married someone from Syracuse. My wife is Japanese American and we met in a language class in Japan. I was in the automotive business, but I always wanted to do a wine bar.
I met a chef and we decided to do a restaurant and bar. The restaurant is named for my daughter, whose name was Parisa, which means shadow of an angel or like an angel. When Parisa was 16 years old, she was diagnosed with brain cancer and she passed away 18 months later. I quit the automotive industry at that time and saw it as a sign that I should try this restaurant. Parisa opened in March 2011. We remodeled the downstairs into a party and banquet space. We started with only serving lunch, and tried dinner for a bit and now that we have our beer and wine license, will be doing dinner again. We have two cooks here, Donna and Tyler. Donna has been in the restaurant business for over 20 years. Tyler is new, but has a lot of passion for cooking.
On how local history is present at the restaurant
When I saw the space, I immediately loved the exposed brick and architectural details. I also loved that the Onondaga Historical Association museum is right next door. Gregg Tripoli [executive director of the OHA] helped us get a lot of the artifacts you see in here.
Gregg has been our biggest cheerleader since we’ve been here. When we were getting ready to open, we knew we didn’t want to use placemats as advertising, so through talking with Gregg, the idea was created to have historical information on the placements. The OHA created over 10 placements with different local historical information on them that diners can look at each time they come in. The photos hanging on the walls are on loan from the OHA. We have a dine and shop program with the OHA where diners to the restaurant or customers at the OHA gift shop get stamps on a card each time they spend $20 at either the restaurant or the gift shop and if they get 3 stamps from one place, they get a 10% discount at the other place. When we were undergoing renovations to open, Gregg took us on a tour of the OHA’s collection and we were able to look for items to display in the restaurant. The stained glass windows that hang in the dining area are from the collection and are originally from a well-known stained glass studio. The renovations we did in the space were meant to reflect the historic architectural details, so we mimicked the old woodwork with the new pieces that were built. We also restraightened the tin for the ceiling.
On Persian food and the Dining Week menu
I’m Persian and am from Iran. A lot of the daily specials at Parisa are Persian foods. Persian food includes ingredients such as herb rice, chicken, saffron rice and salmon. Persian food is different than Indian food in that it’s not spicy. The Dining Week menu will contain some Persian dishes and based on the response to those dishes, we will add more Persian food to our regular menu. Right now, we do a lot of sandwiches and all of our sandwiches have a twist. We also make our own potato chips here and hear a lot of feedback from customers about our chips. A lot of people want us to bag our chips and sell them. We had a winter solstice party here in December which in Persian culture is celebrated with a potluck dinner.
Parisa is one of the 25 restaurants participating in the 2012 edition of AmeriCU Dining Week(s). Visit the restaurant at 317 Montgomery Street, call 565-5118 for information or reservations or visit parisarestaurant.com.