Former Radius GM Esti Parsons, 40, returns to the city to helm Sam’s, a French-American bistro inside the new Louis store at Fan Pier.
You left Radius in 2009 to open your own restaurant in Hingham. What happened? It fell apart. My husband [American Hi-Fi bassist Drew Parsons] and I wanted to open something low-key and friendly on the South Shore, where we live, but we couldn’t find the right location. Literally the day after Drew and I were saying, OK, it’s time to make something happen, Debi Greenberg [president of Louis] called.
A perfect match? You’ve always been regarded as a local style icon. Debi wants Louis to be a place where the community can come together to shop, eat, stroll around outside. Anyone can walk into Sam’s, whether you’re dressed up or down. That really appealed to me. The food will be casual, and the decor – polished concrete floors, white Formica tables, floor-to-ceiling windows – will have the same vibe.
After spending your career in fine dining – at Via Matta before Radius – what’s the appeal of a neighborhood restaurant? Drew and I are pretty casual people. The waterfront suits our personalities. People can rent a picnic basket and sit on the lawn and watch the boats go by. And Drew will get his music: We hope to have live bands on weekends for brunch.
What’s on the menu? We’ll focus on local. Lunch will have great salads, a burger; my favorite so far is a grilled tuna sandwich with coleslaw and tiger sauce. At dinner, we’ll have family-style sides that’ll change every day. We’ll also deliver food to boats at the dock.
What will it be like working with your husband? It’s actually a full-family affair. Drew’s brother will oversee the beverage program. The chef is Ken Rogers, his sous-chef is his brother Andy, and their brother Jon will bartend.
Do you entertain at home, or is it just a day job? I love cooking and eating and making people comfortable and happy. We want Sam’s to feel like the best dinner party: great music and really great friends, lots of good cocktails and wine, like you’re hanging out at our house. Except here, of course, you don’t have to help in the kitchen.