Brickhouse Grill to become a banquet venue

SCALING BACK — Twins Frank, left, and Bill Jennings have closed their longtime Brickhouse Grill restaurant so they can focus on growing their catering business.

SCALING BACK — Twins Frank, left, and Bill Jennings have closed their longtime Brickhouse Grill restaurant so they can focus on growing their catering business.

BEACON PHOTOS/JOE CREWS

MOVING OUT — Bartender Paige Levesque places bar glasses in a bin so they can be taken to Byte Bistro, since the bar at Brickhouse Grill will be demolished.

MOVING OUT — Bartender Paige Levesque places bar glasses in a bin so they can be taken to Byte Bistro, since the bar at Brickhouse Grill will be demolished.

After nearly three decades in the restaurant business, twins Bill and Frank Jennings want to scale back their workloads. So they’re converting one of their two eateries in Downtown DeLand into a place in which they can hold banquets, corporate events or other large gatherings.

The former Bill & Frank’s Brickhouse Grill, which closed April 21, is destined to become Venue 142, named for its address at 142 N. Woodland Blvd. They hope to have the new space up and running by August.

The change doesn’t affect their other restaurant, Byte Bistro, across the street at 145 N. Woodland Blvd.

“We’re shutting down for quality-of-life reasons,” Bill Jennings said in an interview with his brother. “We’ve been working 80 to 90 hours a week, and we’re just trying to step back.”

The brothers started in the business when they were 19 years old, Bill said. They’ve operated a series of restaurants in Downtown DeLand, with Brickhouse being the most long-lived.

“We’re now 48, and felt it was time to slow it down a little bit,” Bill said.

In recent years, the brothers’ Take a Byte Catering has taken an increasing portion of their attention — sometimes with multiple events on a given day — so they decided to focus on on-site and off-site catering.

“We’re basically going to be a venue hall,” Frank said. “We’ll be able to accommodate 190 people in a full-service venue.”

To do that, they will remove the wall that separated the former restaurant and bar, to create one larger space for hosting special events.

Byte Bistro has a smaller banquet room that cannot accommodate nearly as many guests, Frank pointed out. And with Byte being a smaller restaurant, it will be easier to run, Bill said.

The brothers stressed that an increase in the number of Downtown restaurants was not the reason for closing Brickhouse.

“I don’t know if there are too many restaurants, but each just takes a smaller piece of the pie,” Frank said. “We’ve been here 18 years, and we definitely see a difference in sales. The dollars are spread out farther.”

The brothers had been thinking about making the move for many months, but it was during a rare, two-week-long vacation when they realized what they were missing by working such long hours, Bill said.

“Brickhouse was still successful, but we had to be here constantly,” he said. “We’ve devoted all our lives to it, but it’s time for a change.”

And that change is going to be their catering business, an approved caterer at the city’s Wayne G. Sanborn Activity Center and a host of weekly Rotary Club meetings.

The brothers thank the community for its support over the years.

“It has been a good, long run,” Bill said. “I think we did a lot for the community.”

“There are a lot of memories here,” Frank agreed. “But we can make more.”

— Joe Crews, joe@beacononlinenews.com

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