Parks Old Style Bar-B-Q turns 50
Published: June 17, 2014
MT: What makes this place so durable?
Parks: We sell a good product reasonably, and we bend over backwards to make the client or customer satisfied with our product. Now, I don’t subscribe to the old axiom “The customer is always right.” That’s not true. You’re going to get jerks in here, and you’re going to get people you can’t satisfy. I have, on one or two occasions, thrown people out of here. Because with some people, I just don’t want your money. You come in here, you’re perhaps intoxicated and you’re disruptive, getting loud, customers will walk out, they don’t need that. So I have put people out. I do not allow loitering or hanging around in front of my building or on the door, you know, panhandlers, we move them along. It’s bad for business. Years ago, I used to have a problem: Across the street there were row houses, since knocked down, and it was a hooker hangout. And I’d have to go chase the girls back across the street. ’Cause they would come up to the door and solicit the customers before they could get through my door. And I’d go, “Hey, ladies! I don’t work your side of the street, don’t work mine.”
MT: [laughs] I think a lot of those practices go back to being an old-fashioned neighborhood business operator. In a way, you’re sort of a pillar of the community, aren’t you?
Parks: We try to be, and we try to give back to the community. We have a staff of nine, and seven of them walk to work here.
MT: That’s sought-after these days, to be able to walk to work.
Parks: Well, there are only two people have cars! [laughs] So they use alternative means of transportation. But most of them walk. We’re in walking distance of the residences.
MT: And I imagine you don’t get any trouble here.
Parks: We’ve had problems. I’ve lost two rooftop units to scrappers. We’ve never been robbed, we’ve never had anybody hurt in the parking lot, and interestingly, probably 65 percent of our people coming in are women, picking something up on the way home from work. In the evening, in the summertime, we’ll have one of the guys walk the women to the door. The alternative is, we could hire a security guard, but that gives the wrong connotation. You know, after I had two attempted break-ins — they came through the roof — they suggested that we put barbed wire up on the roof. Well, I’m not doing that. I don’t want to look like these liquor stores around here, with razor-wire fences, everything. That, too, gives the wrong connotation. People already have a misconception that Detroit is dangerous. Why add to it?
Parks Old Style Bar-B-Q is at 7444 Beaubien St, Detroit; 313-873-7444.
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