For this edition of Creative Corner, we have Kim Parker, General Manager at Tuscan Bistro Bar in Toms River. Tuscan Bistro Bar has become quite the hot spot for Toms River residents and visitors alike, with a family-friendly atmosphere, game nights, and a mind-blowing menu to match. Kim recently started a new chapter of her entrepreneurial journey, co-founding eco-friendly lifestyle brand SeaCoast Clothing with her family. We chatted with Kim about her shift from a team leader at Tuscan to a supporting role at SeaCoast, how the community has shaped her career, and what’s coming up next for both of her businesses.
Why did you decide to pursue a career in the restaurant industry?
My path to the restaurant industry evolved along the way. I had served and trained servers prior to moving into management. With my move to Tuscan Bistro Bar, I moved into full-time management and then the General Manager position.
How has your involvement in the Toms River community impacted your career?
My involvement in the community has been such a blessing in so many aspects. I have been rewarded with the opportunity to build business relationships and partnerships. I have also been able to contribute to projects and organizations that make Toms River a wonderful place to live and work. I am grateful for the friendships I have made through the years and all the support I have received.
From your Mac Attack Burger to your Rib Rolls, Tuscan Bistro Bar’s menu hosts a variety of creative options. How do you keep your menu fresh and inventive?
It is a team effort. All staff brings ideas to the table. Our guests often make suggestions and we bring those ideas to the table.
Creative Click Media’s own Director of Distraction Miles demonstrating one of Tuscan Bistro Bar’s unique features – a Build-Your-Own Pizza Bar!
What are three traits that someone would need to possess to be able to do your job?
- Love being a people person
- Good listening skills
- Ability to multi-task
What are the most rewarding and challenging aspects of your job?
It is very rewarding to see our team work together to make an event successful and seeing the guests enjoy the event is the icing on the cake. In the restaurant industry, there are many challenges – the key is to find a creative solution to the guest experience is not impacted.
What does a typical day at the office look like for you?
That definitely varies day-to-day, but the main focus of every day is to provide quality food at an affordable price with exceptional service.
One of the many rooms in Kim’s “Office” at Tuscan Bistro Bar.
If Tuscan Bistro Bar were to open a second location anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
My choice would be on the barrier island (seasonal). Our food is cooked to order with fresh ingredients. Our philosophy is that food is meant to be shared. I think it would be a perfect dining choice for people on vacation.
If you could only eat one Tuscan dish for every dinner for the rest of your life, what would you choose?
Scarpariello wings. They are to die for. Marinated and baked in the pizza oven and tossed with cherry peppers. Delicious!
You recently started your own clothing line SeaCoast Clothing. What made you decide to branch out into the fashion and lifestyle industry?
This is a family project. My family loves the beach lifestyle so a product line that reflects our lifestyle and reflects values we feel strongly about seemed like a natural choice for us.
How do your leadership roles differ between Tuscan Bistro Bar and SeaCoast Clothing?
At Tuscan, I am the head of the team. With SeaCoast I am in more of a supporting position. My daughters are taking the lead and it is so rewarding seeing them taking a leadership role.
How do you strike a good work-life balance?
Spend as much time as possible at the beach with family and friends.
What is one piece of advice that has followed you through your career?
24-hour rule. It definitely pays to take time to think about all aspects of a situation.
What’s coming up next for you?
Stay tuned! We have new team members coming on board at Tuscan Bistro Bar that I am excited to work with. I look forward to building SeaCoast into a brand that is recognized for quality coming from the Jersey Shore.
For more information about Kim Parker and her businesses, please visit tuscanbistrobar.com and seacoastshop.com.