WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — Tommy Brann’s Steakhouse and Grille in Wyoming has been sold to the restaurateur’s sister and nephew.
Tommy Brann first opened the location in 1971, continuing the legacy of his father, who opened the first Brann’s restaurant in 1960.
“I just remember my dad loving this business, loving his customers, loving employees and loving his family because he worked really hard,” Brann said.
His first day at the restaurant located at 4157 Division Ave. near Thurston Street, Brann’s sold 97 dinners, he said, saying it’s a number he’ll never forget.
The business owner was 19 years old at the time, and making a payment of $5,000 a month on the building.
“That’s a lot of money back in 1970 — a lot of money now — so I made those payments, I paid off the restaurant,” he recalled.
Owning the building outright helped his business survive the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We didn’t know what to expect, we thought it could be over. Luckily, this place was debt-free so I could survive better than some of my friends in the restaurant business. So COVID was really something I’ve never seen in 52 years, how powerful that was on the restaurant business,” he said.
Throughout his time at the restaurant, Brann said his customers and employees made him love what he did. Some of the around 30 employees currently at the restaurant have been working alongside Brann for more than four decades.
Those employees kept him going, he said, “because you don’t want to let them down.” Working alongside them helped create loyal employees, said Brann, who would work Mother’s Day, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve with them.
But after more than five decades, Brann decided it was time to move on.
“I’ve been there for 52 years in the same building, working day and night, and it’s a great business. I love my employees, I love my customers. So it wasn’t an easy decision,” he said. “But I would walk around the block here just to escape my restaurant, and I knew it was time to move on.”
He said he wants to see his wife more and be able to be with her during the holidays.
His sister, Liz Stegehuis, and her son, Sean Stegehuis, have stepped up and bought the restaurant. Brann said his sister is the “hero” of the story for that decision.
“Because she kept the employees working by taking over the restaurant right away, so we didn’t have one day off. So for the employees, this is good for them,” he said.
Liz Stegehuis has been working in the restaurant industry since she was 17. It’s an industry that she loves.
“There’s not a day I get up and I think, ‘I have to go to work,'” she said. “I get up and I can’t wait to get here. So I enjoy the industry and I always have.”
She said she loves the employees and customers, as they become “your friends and family.”
Her and her son are ready to keep the restaurant going. She said not many changes will be coming to the restaurant, although they’re looking at bringing back the salad bar, something she said customers have been asking about.
Liz Stegehuis said she’s thankful for the opportunity to “carry on the legacy” of her brother.
Brann will still be around the restaurant and to give advice to his sister.
He’s also insisted on paying cash when he stops in for lunch, despite his sister’s efforts.
“I tried,” she joked.
“My wife and I are looking at going to Liverpool. I’m a big Beatles fan, so I want to walk Abbey Road,” he said. “That’s what I want to do and definitely get a picture of that, and just be with be with my wife, Sue, of 49 years.”