Historic Kansas restaurant closing due to COVID-19 pandemic

Published: Oct. 3, 2020 at 10:17 PM CDT
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ABILENE, Kan. (KWCH) - The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the restaurant business nationwide, but now, it’s taken one of the most famous restaurants in Kansas -- The Brookville Hotel.

This week, the owner announced that it’s closed for good. The restaurant has been serving north-central Kansas for a century and a half.

The owner said they tried to hang on, but after months of slowed business, they had to make the tough decision to close.

The original restaurant in Brookville opened in 1870 and has been passed down through four generations.

“I was 13 years old. My first job, working at the Brookville Hotel, washing dishes,” Owner Mark Martin said.

Martin’s mother sold it to him in 1983 and in 2000, he moved the restaurant to Abilene -- but 20 years later, it’s come to an end.

“I didn’t realize that the end of September would be the end of Brookville,” Martin said.

The day after announcing their doors wouldn’t reopen, customers from across the state made the trip to Abilene, hoping to get one last plate.

“We’ll just get in the car and go as fast as we can just in case they’re open one more night,” Dean and Getchen Samuelson said.

They say they’ve eaten at Brookville for decades, even before it moved to Abilene.

“Back when we were in college we’d go to Brookville. And over the years we’ve gone for special occasions.”

While they’ll miss the chicken, potatoes, and cole slaw, Martin will miss serving it to them.

“A lot of heart ache in the fact that we won’t see these people again.”

Even though the restaurant is closed, Martin said he wants the recipes for their chicken, cole slaw and gravy to live on. He said they’re looking into making recipe cards, so you can make some of these dishes yourself.

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