Jason and Vanessa Perkins took over ownership of Papa’s Uptown Italian Restaurant on May 1.
He is the executive chef and kitchen manager while she oversees the front of house.
They have two young daughters who enjoy playing in the restaurant as their mom and dad serve lasagna, minestrone, chicken Alfredo and other beloved Papa’s recipes with authentic Italian wines.
Prescott LIVING: What brought you to Prescott?
Jason Perkins: We were living in Santa Fe, New Mexico, working at La Fonda Hotel. And the same group of owners at La Fonda also owned the Hassayampa Inn here in Prescott.
In 2011, the ownership offered me the Executive Chef position at the Hassayampa Inn (Peacock Dining Room). It was a two-week notice, and I was going to have to pick up and leave. Within that two-week period we got married. I was just overwhelmed with the opportunity but excited about moving to Prescott.
Prescott LIVING: How did you get into the hospitality industry?
Jason Perkins: I started doing catering right out of high school and started taking culinary arts classes while working in the industry. After working in restaurants and catering companies for a few years I decided that this was the chosen path for me and I decided to start working my way towards being an executive chef. I focused all of my energy into learning and experience, I left home to travel out west and gain as much experience and knowledge as I could. That venture ultimately led me to where I am today.
Vanessa Perkins: At age of 16, I took my first steps into the world of hospitality in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I was taught a high level of hospitality by an amazing team that I will never forget the La Fonda Hotel Team. It was there that I discovered my innate ability to find joy in making others happy. The opportunity to create unique experiences for guests ignited a passion within me, driving me to excel in the art of customer service. This early realization laid the foundation for a remarkable career dedicated to serving others.
Prescott LIVING: Have you always wanted to own a restaurant?
Jason Perkins: I just always knew owning a restaurant is something I would want. Once I started crossing off certain things in my career, I wanted to go further and take the next step. To me it’s always been about progressing and taking that next step and trying to always do better.
Prescott LIVING: What was the main factor in choosing Papa’s?
Jason Perkins: When Papa’s was located on White Spar, that was the first place we ever went out to eat in Prescott. I remember sitting outside on the patio, and it was a great first experience.
We considered buying other places or opening a new restaurant, but when we found the confidential listing and then found out it was Papa’s, we got very excited because we thought, “Well, that is exactly what we’re looking for; a well-established place with long-term employees and a great location.” That became our first choice by a very, very
Prescott LIVING: Do you plan on making any changes at Papa’s?
Jason Perkins: We’re not looking to reinvent the wheel here. And why would anybody in that scenario of Papa’s? We just want to honor what they’ve done and put our hands on it, without changing a whole lot.
Mama was nice enough to make me a personalized recipe book, which they have never made for anyone, ever. And they didn’t even have recipes written down, it was just Mama doing it. We’re going to keep making the sauces and everything the same way.
Prescott LIVING: How are you going to make it your own?
Vanessa Perkins: We genuinely care about creating an exceptional experience for our guests. Our goal is to enhance the ambiance and ensure every detail contributes to a warm and inviting atmosphere, I want to share my talent and contribute to the community by creating a dining experience that reflects exceptional service and genuine hospitality.
Jason Perkins: While we strive to bring our own unique touch, we also recognize the importance of preserving the elements that have already made the restaurant special. We will introduce weekend specials that allow me to share some of my creative ideas I have but not have to change anything that’s already established.
We plan to focus on improving the comfort of the seating arrangements. We want our customers to feel truly relaxed and at ease while they enjoy their meals. By introducing cozy booths and perhaps even some plush seating options. We understand that the presentation plays a crucial role in the dining experience. We have already taken steps to elevate our service and presentation, but we are committed to going even further. We will invest in new plates, glassware, so that every dish and beverage is showcased beautifully, adding a touch of sophistication to the overall experience.
Prescott LIVING: What would you like the community to know about you and Papa’s?
Vanessa Perkins: Papa’s is not just a business to us; it’s a legacy that we are proud to carry forward. We pour our hearts into every aspect of Papa’s, from the quality of our products to the experience we provide for our customers.
We are immensely grateful for the hard work and dedication of Papa’s staff. They are the backbone of the operation and deserve recognition as we could not be here without them.