GULFPORT — Wade Parrish didn’t think he’d ever get back into the restaurant business.
When he left O’Maddy’s Bar and Grille two years ago, the chef had a solid following at the popular Gulfport restaurant. But at the time it was too much — he had a young child at home and there was a huge staff to oversee, not to mention a 70-hour workweek.
“I got so burnt out and I thought I’d never cook again,” Parrish said. “But once it’s in your blood, it’s hard to get rid of.”
His culinary hiatus appears to be short-lived. Last month, Parrish opened Two Dads, a to-go-only restaurant he operates out of a former produce stand on Gulfport Boulevard.
The concept is home cooking and comfort food, all served to-go out of a drive-thru window. Meals are all $12 and include dishes like a beef and pork belly meatloaf served with a tomato jam, sweet brown sugar glaze and mac and cheese; a roasted strip loin sandwich with horseradish cream and a choice of several toppings; and “Nana’s” pot roast, which is served with leeks, carrots, potatoes and a red wine gravy with rice. For dessert, there’s creamy banana bread pudding and pound cake.
To appease his healthier-leaning Gulfport clientele, Parrish is adding a few vegan and vegetarian items to the menu in the coming weeks, including a vegan meatloaf, vegan mac and cheese and several salads.
Keeping with the times, everything can be ordered online through the restaurant’s website and picked up at the desired time. In the coming weeks, diners will be able to order through Uber Eats, DoorDash and Grubhub, and Parrish hopes to offer free delivery to Gulfport residents in the future. Walkups to the window are welcome, too, and Parrish always has a supply of bacon to hand out to dogs accompanying their owners for a pickup.
Though the concept of a to-go-only restaurant feels perfectly primed for a pandemic, Parrish said he’d been mulling over the idea for a while. He runs the tiny operation with his business partner Ryan Bernat and, as the name implies, the two men are both fathers.
Bernat ran a produce business out of the same Gulfport building Two Dads now occupies and once sold Parrish fruits and vegetables while he was still working at O’Maddy’s. The duo came up with the idea for the new business after running into each other while picking up their toddlers from day care in 2019.
In addition to an expanded restaurant menu, Parrish said he is also working on designing a full dog menu for Gulfport’s furrier residents.
“Everybody in Gulfport has a dog,” he said.
Though the restaurant is still in a soft-opening phase, the spot has already garnered some buzz in the Gulfport community. And community is what it’s all about for Parrish: He’s already befriended several regulars, whose cars he’s memorized and recognizes when he sees the orders pop up.
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Parrish says he looks forward to the day when he can once again shake everybody’s hand. Until then, it’s a smile and a wave — and, if a dog’s around — a piece of bacon to-go.
Two Dads is currently open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday. In the coming weeks, the restaurant will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
5133 Gulfport Blvd. S, Gulfport. 727-289-8577. twodadstakeout.com.