Brent's to shutter its doors


POSTED: Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Brent's Restaurant & Delicatessen in Kailua will serve its last piled-high pastrami, enormously stuffed omelets and comforting matzoh ball soup on Dec. 31.

Hankerings for latkes with applesauce and/or sour cream will have to be sated elsewhere once 2010 begins.

Kailuans and those who come from other neighborhoods to experience the welcoming, homey breakfast and lunch spot with the massive menu are facing the prospect of having to drive over the Pali to get their deli fix.

Brent's was slated to move to another spot in a couple months to make way for construction of Whole Foods. However, “;a confluence of several things”; caused owners Brent and Joanne Brody to decide to close at the end of the year and retire rather than reopen elsewhere, Brent told TheBuzz.

“;My health and my wife's health has not really allowed us to even consider it,”; he said. “;You got to know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em, like in a poker game,”; or a Kenny Rogers song, your columnist notes.

Landowner Kaneohe Ranch Co. “;was trying to find alternative locations to keep Brent's in Kailua,”; said Mitch D'Olier, president and chief executive officer.

D'Olier had wanted Brent's to expand to the Ward complex, when he was in charge there.

“;I used to joke with him that I took this job so I could be his landlord,”; D'Olier chuckled. “;They've been great tenants and they're good friends.”;

First opened in 1995, the restaurant was open for breakfast, lunch and dinner until Brody had a heart attack and underwent triple-bypass surgery nearly seven years ago. Dinner service was eliminated.

His wife has been battling lymphoma since 2000 and in June, he “;had a third-degree heart blockage and I had a pacemaker put in.”;

It is as if God is telling the former church-planting pastor to slow down.

“;You know, I think so. I'd really have to be negligent to not take the message.”;

Additionally, deposits on business insurance and other expenses for the new year were coming due “;and it just didn't make sense to stay open for a month or two months,”; he said.

After the restaurant closes, he plans to help his 17 employees find other jobs, sell his home and move with his wife to Vancouver, Wash., to be near family.

Some of Brent's waitresses have worked there 13 years, almost since it opened.

Brody has lived in Hawaii for 25 years, and before he got into the restaurant business, was a construction project manager and pastored churches. He established Koolau Christian Fellowship in Kailua, also while running Brent's.

He is willing to sell the concept, name and recipes to another operator.

“;I hope somebody can see the value of it and take it on,”; he said. “;It is a viable business and there is a need for it here in Kailua.

D'Olier, bereft at the impending loss, agrees.

“;I'm taking this personally,”; he said. “;I'm trying to figure out how to keep Brent's alive in Kailua.”;

Previously, Brody served as a consultant to Bob Bach, who opened CJ's New York Style Delicatessen at Hilton Hawaiian Village and Giovanni Pastrami at Waikiki Beach Walk.

Even if a deal with someone gels in the next couple weeks, the restaurant will still close, Brody said. In the meantime, guests are writing farewell messages on the walls.

“;It's such a blessing to live in Kailua anyway, but to live and have a business in Kailua, and have all these people who really enjoy your food, you get to know them, become friends and family, I feel like (it's) a family,”; he said.