Tom Parisi aka Tommy 2 Scoops is the most loved man in Jersey City. I heard about him many months ago when I started blogging. People in the community would tell me how friendly and hilarious he is so I knew it would be only a matter of time before we crossed paths.
At the Gay Pride parade in the summer, I spot a man dressed in an Ice Cream costume; dancing, taking selfies with people and having a great time. Turns out it was Tommy himself, owner of two successful restaurants, having an awesome time with the community he loves.
A few weeks later, I went to visit “The Brightside Tavern” for the first time for lunch. Right as I walked in I felt like I was home. They even had a “Welcome Chicpea to the Brightside” scrolling on the screen! I felt so special.
People where sitting around the bar talking to each other, joking with the bartenders, and watching sports on the big T.V’s. I felt like I was in an episode of Cheers. I ordered something to eat for lunch, a simple salmon wrap and was stunned at how fresh and delicious it was. Right after my meal, as I was about to get an Uber to drive me to my next location, Tommy offered to give me a ride in his shuttle! The Brightside Tavern offers shuttle services to anyone living in Jersey City, just give them a call and they will pick you up and drop you off! Like who does that?!
I came back a week later to interview the man behind “The Brightside Tavern”; Tommy and he is such a character. Tommy is my new best friend and the coolest guy in Jersey City, he cracks me up. A few days after our interview I came back with friend and photog Chris Capaci to eat lunch so I can take some cool pics and stuff my face. Chris is actually collaborating with the Brightside and putting together monthly live music shows! #staytuned
What’s your name? Tom Parisi.
What do you do? I am a restauranteur, and a landlord. I own The Brightside Tavern and Tommy 2 Scoops.
What’s the story behind The Brightside Tavern? I wasn’t really a restauranteur in the past, I was a carpet salesmen… I stumbled on Jersey City in the 90s and I was lucky enough to buy apartments at that time. From buying apartments at the right price and developing some equity, I managed to buy a couple of buildings. One of the buildings I own is where “Tommy 2 Scoops” is… I had a chance to get into the retail business and I opened a sandwich gelato place there.
In 2007, I bought another historic building that was the home of a dive bar on Bright and Monmouth. I was lucky enough to have a building that had the ability to expand an additional 70 ft so it took me 4 years to get it ready and it was complete in 2011… and then we opened The Brightside Tavern which I am really proud of.
Can you tell me more about The Brightside Tavern? You know what Lynn, I wanted to create a “Cheers” like environment… matter of fact coincidently I went to school with Rhea Pearlman from “Cheers” in Brooklyn many years… probably too many to mention. Anyway, I always wanted a rectangular bar so the extension of the building created a neat bar area….The Brightside Tavern is a great sports bar and musical bar.
It does feel like Cheers! Everyone is talking to each other and it’s really friendly… you look across the bar and you see other people… my style is to keep people talking to each other… I am always introducing people to one another. It’s really what drives me, it’s what I love most about this restaurant. This is my home.
It’s not only an attractive bar but we have two dining rooms that have become music venues. We have Jazz night on Monday nights with over 20 musicians and singers that attend… We have karaoke nights, we are home to film festivals… The Open Door film festival is here once a year. We also do comedy once a month….
What we should really mention is we make really good food. Of course people come to restaurants to eat so the atmosphere here is great. The food is very good… I probably don’t brag about the food as much as I should. My customers are always telling me how good it is and how we are also priced right. This is not a special occasion place, this is a place you come to every day and feel like you are getting your moneys worth and you feel at home. There are people who come here 5/6 days a week because its affordable.
It’s a place for regulars. I tell you what its become though… because we have nice dining rooms that accommodate between 20-60 people, we host a lot of bridal showers, baby showers, parties, birthdays… we are the home of the birthday party. We allow them to do whatever they want, we have screens and they can play any music they want. Which has been a lot of fun, I personally enjoy the parties myself.
You also have a shuttle. What’s that about? Well because we are off the beat and path a little bit, and we aren’t on Newark ave, I want people not to think we are out-of-the-way… It’s not out-of-the-way when you have a shuttle. All you have to do is call us and we will pick you up and take you back in Jersey City. People don’t believe it exists… but once they do it once they do it again. We have a lot of repeat customers.
That’s really big to know because people are lazy! Will you go up to The Heights? I will go up to The Heights, I will go up to Greenville, I will go anywhere… Paulus Hook. Anywhere in Jersey City. I want people to know it’s easy to get to The Brightside. I personally do it myself sometimes, I enjoy it.
That’s what makes you a good business owner because you are part of the day-to-day. You socialize with everyone…are you here all day? I am here everyday, but I pick my time and I am here for all the good events.
Tell me more about the food. If you look at our menu you are actually going to go “Wow, look at the selection of appetizers, look at the selection of salads… and entrees” The onion soup is delicious, the salmon over risotto… the shrimp crostini is out of this world. Our hamburger selection has 6 different types. We have a lamb burger which is really good! Even the $19 steak is fabulous. I always wanted people not to think twice about coming here…they can get whatever they are craving here.
How do you feel Jersey City has changed in the past few years? More high rises, there are more people around… there are more restaurants, which gives people more choices which is a good thing, it steps up our game. We have to be more competitive, and we have to step it up. I have to say though I am proud of this place.
People love this place, they always come to me and tell me how much they love the food, and how comfortable they are. People can move a chair, they can do what they want…
I could bring mini chicpea to run around… She can’t at sit at the bar haha…. but it’s an informal place. People will stay here longer than they intend because they feel comfortable.
You talk about how much people say they love this place, but people also talk about how much they love you… Everywhere I go people say how much they love you. I have to tell you, I am not a genius or a technical person… god gives you different things and it gave me the ability to be comfortable with people and make them feel comfortable. I love people, and they see it. I truly thrive on pleasing them. I get energized when I see everyone happy. I am not a young guy, I have 3 boys; I have a 42 year old son, 39 and 34 and a wonderful granddaughter… I am 68 but feel 40. People see it and they get a kick out of my antics, I like to have fun…
What’s a fun fact about you? I have a claim to fame. I sang at the Apollo Theatre 16 years ago. I was on national T.V.
Oh wow! I think I’ve told that story around 40,000 times! I literally made it through the whole song at the Apollo. People like Lauryn Hill and Luther Vandros were boo’d off the first time… but Tom Parisi made it through.
You need to get it on You Tube!! People also love you when you own an ice cream store… kids look up to me. The Tommy 2 Scoops name is a very endearing name… people love to say it.
Any other fun facts? I keep a database of people’s birthdays on my phone and every morning I text them a Happy Birthday and let them know to come by for their free birthday drink. That’s my social media.
I love that. So sweet!! Such a nice touch. I enjoy doing it.
I met you for the first time at Gay Pride, and you were dressed like an Ice Cream… you were partying it up. I could have had someone else in that costume, but I had so much fun engaging with people and making people happy… taking pictures. More people take pictures of me during these festivals than the Mayor!! I get the benefits of being Tommy 2 Scoops as well as the owner of The Brightside.
You are also very involved in the community. There are so many good causes that I am involved with, whether it is church or synagogue functions… I was principal of the day couple of years ago… Just a couple of days ago I read a book to students at PS23. I can’t tell you how many fundraisers I encourage. It’s all about good karma and pleasing people, I enjoy that.
Anything else you want people to know? I want people to know it’s a fun place, you will enjoy yourself and the food is delicious.
141 Bright St