A Brann New Home

May 4, 2007
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GRAND RAPIDS — The Sizzlin’ 5 Corp., which owns and operates nine Brann’s Steakhouse & Grille restaurants statewide, has put its business on the front burner by moving its offices downtown.

Tommy, Johnny and Mike Brann, Tom Doyle and Dave Lahay — the Sizzlin’ 5 — have purchased 4,400 square feet on the Garden Level at 25 Commerce Ave. SW and are hosting an open house there next week to show off their new space.

“Being downtown is exciting, I think, for any business, and that’s why we moved to downtown Grand Rapids,” said Tommy Brann.

The new location, just a block south of Fulton Street, puts the company in the midst of an entertainment and dining sector that all but defines the Heartside Business District. The Brann’s office is just a few blocks east of Van Andel Arena and a few blocks west of the growing Avenue of the Arts on South Division.

“In our business, an office is a losing proposition because it doesn’t generate any revenue for us. So we looked at this building as a good investment, and that played a big part in our decision to move downtown,” said Tommy Brann.

“We feel that being downtown is an opportunity for us — just from all the people that will walk by our office and will see our sign.”

Second Story Properties brokered the deal that brought the Brann’s restaurant, catering and franchising divisions from Wyoming to downtown. But the company’s Wedding and Conference Center is staying put in Wyoming at 4945 S. Division Ave. Brann said the catering business is doing well and that wedding receptions and office parties are the largest revenue generators.

The Sizzlin’ 5 operates seven restaurants in the region, four in the metro area and one each in Holland, Portage and Muskegon. They also have two on the southeast side of the state in Northville and Macomb townships. Brann said business remains strong on the state’s west side and is getting better on the east side.

“It’s up there. It’s a different type of market than we were told it would be, but it’s been good. The demographics have been good. But that side is suffering more economically and in a worse situation than West Michigan,” he said.

A new mall is being built across Hall Road from the Macomb restaurant and the partners are hoping the shopping center will bring more traffic to their door. That stretch of Macomb County has had a lot of residential and commercial growth the past decade.

“The traffic goes so fast though. We hope the mall slows it down a little bit, which we think would be a positive,” he said.

John Brann Sr. opened the first Brann’s Steakhouse in 1960. Then sons Tommy, Mike and Johnny opened more steakhouses with help from Doyle and Lahay.

As the business grew, it also changed. More menu items were added to the locally famous sizzler, which sold as many as 800 on Saturday nights, and the celebrated casual atmosphere was tweaked more toward sports. Over the years, both moves have paid off handsomely, so much so that the partners built a replica of their noted sports bar in their office.

“Even though we’re on the garden level, we’re moving up,” joked Brann. “It was the right decision.”

But the move wasn’t made purely for business reasons. For the Brann brothers, settling in downtown is a homecoming of sorts — one they see as honoring their father.

“This is like coming full circle, because John Brann, the founder of Brann’s, used to live on Commerce Street, right near that area. We didn’t pick it for that reason, but you’ve heard of a ‘full-circle-of-life,’ and this is reflective of that. He lived on Commerce in the late 1920s,” said Brann.

The move pleases Johnny Brann for another reason. He opened the restaurant at 401 Leonard St. NW with his brother Mike and has been an active member of the West Leonard Business District for a very long time.

“I’m glad they’re coming to my territory,” said Johnny Brann of his partners. “We need to be in Grand Rapids.”

Brann’s Steakhouse & Grille

What began 47 years ago as a single, family owned and operated restaurant in Grand Rapids has grown into a chain with locations sprinkled across the region and the state.

Still controlled by the Brann family and a few close friends, Brann’s Steakhouse and Grille restaurants now number nine. Here are the locations:

  • Tommy Brann’s, 4157 S. Division Ave., Wyoming

  • Mike & Johnny Brann’s, 401 Leonard St. NW, Grand Rapids

  • Holland Brann’s, 12234 James St., Holland

  • Grandville Brann’s, 3475 Fairlanes SW, Grandville

  • Cascade Brann’s, 5510 28th St. SE, Grand Rapids

  • Portage Brann’s, 700 Martin Luther King Road, Portage

  • Muskegon’s Brann’s, 5510 Harvey St., Muskegon

  • Northville Brann’s, 39715 6 Mile Road, Northville Township

  • Macomb Brann’s, 17757 Hall Road, Macomb Township


Source: Branns.com, May 2007    

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