Parker's Seafood restaurant in Roanoke closes after 99 years

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) - A family business that has existed in the Roanoke Valley for nearly a century has finally closed its doors. Parker's Seafood Company restaurant is no more.The owners say they leave behind a floundering business and many good memories.

The voicemail message on the restaurant's main line confirms this. A man's voice is heard saying, "Thank you for calling Parker's Seafood. After 100 years of business in the Roanoke Valley, we have decided to close our doors. We would like to thank the Roanoke customers for your continuing patronage to our business. Thank you for a great 99 years in the Roanoke Valley."

Wednesday night at Parker's Seafood the lights are out and the kitchen's empty. For good.

"Surreal," said co-owner Chris Parker, sitting at a booth in the empty restaurant. "I mean since I've been about 16 years old I spent most if not all of my work career here at Parker's."

It's something that Parker is still getting used to.

"You know, it has its moments," he said.

Parker says they officially closed their doors last week. The last two years he said, weren't good for business.

"I think for any small business person it's hard to make ends meet right now," he said. And I think for us we wanted to kinda go out on a good note, not a bad note."

The ups and downs of the bobbing business began 99 years ago with Parker's grandfather in a fish market downtown. The story continued when his father cast his net - opening the restaurant on Peters Creek Road.

"It was incredible then," Parker said. "I mean you couldn't get inside the building to eat, I mean it was just line after line of people."

In 2001 they built the modern building, modeled after a lighthouse in Maryland. In 2007, it nearly burnt down. The fire caused extensive smoke damage throughout the building and the kitchen was a total loss. Investigators told WDBJ7 the fryer might has sparked the fire. Damages and restoration cost more than a half a million dollars. The restaurant reopened in July of that year.

Parker said in retrospect, they underestimated the amount of advertising they needed to do after reopening.

"So I think we never really came back with our full gusto."

Parker said he's spent a lot of time at the restaurant, away from his kids. He's looking forward to family now, grateful for the family who came before him.

"When you have a business that's been around for that long and you're carrying on a family name that is synonymous in Roanoke of seafood, yeah that was probably the hardest part for me to give up."