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Chef behind Ricky P's is taking over the kitchen at Tampa's Roux

Rick Parsons prepares New Orleans-style po boy sandwiches at his business in 2009. SCOTT KEELER | Times
Published Oct. 11, 2017

Rick Parsons has been moving around St. Petersburg for some time.

First he was brick-and-mortar free, testing out the local culinary waters with a booth at the Saturday Morning Market for his Cajun-Creole stylings. Then he put down roots in the In Your Belly Deli space, opening the eponymously named Ricky P's. What was mostly a po' boy joint, it was swiftly joined by a second humble location inside Bob Lee's Tire & Mobil Co. further down Fourth Street N. Then he took on the large and ambitious space that had formerly housed Savannah's Café in the EDGE District. He closed that down after 4 and a half years when rent skyrocketed and relocated last year to Bayview Plaza, renaming the project Ricky P's Creole Kitchen.

That closed at the end of August. Now, Parsons has announced that he will join forces with dynamic restaurateurs Suzanne and Roger Perry (Datz, Dough, the soon-to-open Dr. BBQ's, etc.) by taking over the kitchen at their upscale New Orleans South Tampa restaurant, Roux.

Why was the Bayview Plaza project so short-lived?

"The truth is I completely miscalculated the importance of being in the downtown area, what that means for a destination restaurant like ours," Parsons said. "There's more going on than just food downtown and I moved us out to the suburbs, so to speak. The weekends didn't live up to our expectations, and with a full-service menu and staff, the cash flow wasn't strong enough to support us."

Aligning himself with the Perrys came naturally — they had run into each other at charity events, and the Perrys had come into Ricky P's for dinner from time to time.

"They impressed me as restaurateurs," Parsons said. "They not only have vision, but their passion extends to reaching out and investigating players to come in (on their projects)."

Parsons takes over the kitchen on Nov. 1, All Saint's Day, a fittingly important New Orleans holiday. His first objective is to bring back Roux's lunch menu, featuring the po' boys he made popular in St. Petersburg. In South Tampa, this lunch push will include an assist from delivery services like Amazon and UberEats. After that, he will be making small adjustments to the existing dinner menu, adding more filé powder to the gumbo, say, to make it more New Orleans style.

"I'm not here to overhaul the recipes; I'm here to tweak and embellish."

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