What use to be a smoke-filled perch with a beautiful view of Okanagan Lake has seen a lot of changes in its 20 years.
David Prystay, general manager of the Penticton Lakeside Resort, took the single bar on the property called The Leading Edge through a makeover into what is now the Barking Parrot.
“It is quite ironic it went from an old hotel lounge style bar, as I called it the Losing Edge, where one day they sold one single drink all day for $3.50, to the popular bar we are now that sets records every year,” said Prystay.
Part of that success is targeting all age groups and treating the people of Penticton right. In May, the Barking Parrot celebrated its 600th customer appreciation barbecue which have become a Friday tradition for many in the city.
“I started that almost 20 years ago and we have done it ever since. I flipped burgers the first 15 years in snow, sleet whatever it was,” said Prystay.
On Saturday, the Barking Parrot bar encourages everyone to join them to celebrate their 20th anniversary. That is two decades of inviting people to enjoy the spectacular view on their patio, catch a hockey game on their big screens, a game of pool, or one of the many live bands or community events they host such as fashion shows, comedy acts and more.
“That is part of the keys to success, community involvement. We want to bring as much of the community as we can into the bar and introduce them to it. As a business we also want to give back so we do these events,” said Prystay.
Gitta Schoenne was hired as the Barking Parrot bar manager shortly after the hotel was bought. She helped turn the lounge into a popular hotspot.
“They continue to appreciate the locals and the year-round support but the tourists that come in the summer as well. I can remember having the same tourists coming back year after year and actually asking for me and other staff by name. It is one of the best parts about working here, meeting all the people,” said Schoenne, who plans on being at the festivities on Saturday. “I still come down all the time and it is still like being with family.”
Jamie Moore, a bar porter when Schoenne started, worked his way up to the Barking Parrot manager and now is the manager of the Hooded Merganser.
“Being that’s the business I am in, this is the place to do it. It has consistently been a hotspot in town and most of that is because of David’s (Prystay) marketing abilities,” said Moore. “Over the years we have had tons of live entertainment and that is part of the great marketing and always keeping it fresh.”
Brandon Legault, the new manager of the Barking Parrot that recently took over from Dallas Worthington who departed to become the manager of the Best Western Sands Hotel in Vancouver, also got his start in the venue as a bar porter. Legault was born and raised in Penticton, keeping the Parrot’s local flavour.
“What we are doing here is great and we capitalized on the night crowd and I really would like to get our days and lunches busier because our food menu has a lot to offer. In the winter we have lots of options for lunch, host parties and we want to get share our great menu with everyone,” said Legault.
The Barking Parrot will have no cover charge on Saturday for the 20th anniversary celebration, drink specials and the popular Joe’s Garage (house band at the Roxy Nightclub in Vancouver) will hit the stage at 9 p.m.
“People always call us asking when they are coming in next, so to have them here for the 20th anniversary is great,” said Legault. “We will have our barbecue going to treat everyone, and we just really want to treat everyone to a good night and show our appreciation.”
The Parrot is also hosting rising country star Tim Hicks on Nov.6 and Glass Tiger on Nov. 23. Tickets for these two concerts can be purchased at the Lakeside front desk.