Two young Delbarton alumni are taking a different path from typical college graduates heading to NYC. Rather than spending their disposable income on food and drinks in Manhattan restaurants, they’re jointly managing one.
Murphy Fitzpatrick '17 and Parker Pridgen '15 are hard at work most afternoons and nights overseeing Bardough, a casual bar and Italian restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen. Located on West 46th Street, Restaurant Row, Bardough is the first venture Fitzpatrick and Pridgen took on after assuming its management in January 2023.
Next month, they’ll expand their growing restaurant empire -- a guy can dream -- to include rebranding another venue just up the street, transforming Mexican-themed Tito Murphy’s into a more classic pub restaurant called Backstage Tavern. This second dining venue has a 500-patron capacity, perfect for families or groups coming or going from Broadway shows.
Former Green Wave wrestler Fitzpatrick, on right above, has the restaurant industry in his blood. For decades, his father and a business partner have owned and operated NYC restaurants, and their holdings include eleven popular pub-themed venues like Legends and Playwright’s Tavern. Pridgen, on left, played basketball and tennis for the Green Wave, and the two were childhood friends before landing at Delbarton.
Despite this early foodservice trade exposure for Fitzpatrick, both young men took a more traditional academic route to their current destination. Fitzpatrick graduated from Villanova with a degree in Economics, followed by a one-year business course at the Institute of Culinary Education. Pridgen earned a business degree at Bucknell and, in 2022, the two friends decided to throw in together to manage Bardough, a restaurant on West 46th Street that was founded in 2019 in the heart of Hell’s Kitchen between 8th and 9th Avenues. This single block has more than a century of culinary history and, given its proximity to esteemed Broadway theaters, is an ideal destination for the pre- and post-theater crowd.
With its casual bar scene vibe and reasonable price point, Bardough is the perfect meet-up spot for young alums and friends grabbing a beer together. Come hungry, people!
To rein in costs in a post-Covid world, the two partners immediately looked for opportunities to cut costs while building a following. They quickly discovered one managerial role they had to grow into was managing staffers who were often far more seasoned (read: older) than their bosses. Both alumni agree that, for all of the book knowledge they acquired in college business courses, the boots on the ground restaurant experience has been their most impactful teacher.
Of course, their work hours vary radically from most of their city-based Delbarton friends. Last February, forty of their Delbarton brothers landed at Bardough after the Delbarton Alumni Association’s annual reception at New York Athletic Club. The gathering was an after-party for most, but definitely a work night for Fitzpatrick and Pridgen. They’re looking forward to hosting more alumni after this year’s alumni reception at NYAC on Wednesday February 21 (there's still time to RSVP here).
As they continue to climb the rungs of the restaurant management ladder, Fitzpatrick and Pridgen enjoy the unusual autonomy they have in their 20s, the potential for growth and, of course, easy access to all the pizza they can eat. Check out Bardough at 350 West 46th Street and look for the rebranded Backstage Tavern right down the street at 356 West 46th, both in the heart of Midtown Manhattan.
Do you have an interesting entrepreneurial alumni story to tell? Share it with Delbarton Marcom Director Jessica Fiddes here.