James Mowbray began lamenting the lack of restaurants in Avon Lake shortly after he moved there in 2007. There were chain franchises, along with a few choice spots such as Fratello’s. But Mowbray, then general manager of Morton’s The Steakhouse in downtown Cleveland, and his wife Victoria longed for an independent eatery that was nice enough for date nights, yet casual enough for families. The couple, along with then-Morton’s chef Paul Kalberer, began to rectify that situation in July 2013 by opening Parker’s Grille & Tavern at Avon Lake Towne Center, in a space once occupied by Michael Symon’s Bar Symon. They named their 130-seat creation — a modern-industrial amalgamation of high ceilings, exposed ductwork, polished concrete floors and dark wood — after the Mowbrays’ toddler son, Parker.
“What better opportunity than to just open up a place here in Avon Lake with great food, great drinks, great value, [where] everybody knows each other?” Mowbray asks rhetorically. “We were really just trying to make it be the neighborhood restaurant — that was the goal. And knock on wood, we’re very pleased after 2½ years that it’s become that spot.”
The menu, which Parker’s website describes as “classic American dishes ... with a twist,” runs the gamut from sandwiches — Mowbray singles out a Rueben made with house-braised corned beef and house-made thousand-island dressing — to Angus Reserve steaks aged a minimum four weeks before hand-cutting. Customer favorites include a 16-ounce double-cut pork chop marinated in coffee and molasses overnight; a Faroe Island salmon lightly seared in olive oil and served over garlic mashed potatoes with a spicy vegetable broth; and a wild mushroom flatbread pizza topped with portabella, shitake, crimini, spinach, brie and a truffle béchamel. The half-pound burgers are fashioned from a mix of prime and brisket blends. And most of the desserts are made from scratch in house. Mowbray notes that Kalberer modifies the bread pudding every couple of days.
“Tonight, I think, he’s got chocolate peanut-butter cup,” he says. Customers who show up on a holiday might sample, say, a chocolate-covered strawberry version on Valentine’s Day.
Wine aficionados will want to check out a list of 200-plus wines that won a 2015 Wine Spectator Award of Excellence. According to Mowbray, the magazine was impressed with the global selection as well as the $25- to $150-a-bottle price range. Beer-drinkers will find 15 craft-style brews on tap — “We don’t have Miller Lite or Bud Lite or anything like that on draft,” Mowbray says — and 32 bottled varieties, including a hard root beer. 
Parker’s also operates a neighboring 2,800-square-foot event center available for private parties, banquets and receptions. The restaurant is expanding its culinary reach with Parker’s Downtown, a 125-seat eatery slated to open in late April at the luxurious new Kimpton Schofield Hotel at East Ninth Street and Euclid Avenue in Cleveland. Mowbray describes the menu as “modern American.”
“It’ll be the restaurant for the hotel, doing all the room service and banquets,” Mowbray says proudly — a place that will be worth the trip.