Community mourns Jim Brennan

Jim Brennan (right), whose Brennan's Colony was recognized as Best Bar, Pub or Tavern in the 2013 Best of the Heights awards, with emcee Fred Griffith. [Photo by Cedar Center Motophoto.]

Cleveland Heights will hold a community candlelight vigil on Tuesday, July 1, at 7 p.m., to honor the memory of Jim Brennan, who died on June 30 after being shot during an attempted robbery at his Lee Road restaurant, Brennan's Colony.

The vigil will take place at the corner of Meadowbrook Boulevard and Lee Road, and will include brief remarks by Mayor Dennis Wilcox and members of the Heights Interfaith Council. The Reverend John Lentz of Forest Hill Church Presbyterian will lead the community in singing "We Shall Overcome." There will be free parking at Cedar and Lee roads after 6 p.m.

Jim Brennan had owned Brennan's Colony for more than 20 years. Brennan's was known, and loved, for its classic all-American cooking. A frequent Best of the Heights winner, Brennan's most recently was voted Best Bar, Pub or Tavern in 2013, and was a runner up for Best Patio.

In a 2012 Heights Observer article, Brennan said of his business, “It’s like a big family here. Relationships are born here; people become engaged here. It’s just the kind of place where families come together." Brennan's long association with "The Colony" dates to 1981, when he began working there as a bartender. He bought the business in 1991, and over the years sponsored countless softball teams and fundraisers.

Brennan said in 2012 that the best day the restaurant ever had was when the restaurant held a 2007 fundraiser for Seamus O'Connor, a teenager suffering from brain cancer. More than $10,000 was raised for the boy’s medical care and expenses. “It was a selfless day, a great day for The Colony,” said Brennan. ”Everybody felt so good about helping that kid."

Brennan generously gave back to the community, contributing to many local causes. In March, Brennan hosted the Jason D. West Mega Raffle fundraiser for the Officer Jason D. West Memorial Scholarship Fund. The scholarship was established to honor the memory of CH Police Officer West, who was killed in the line of duty in 2007, by awarding college scholarships to Heights students who are pursuing a career in law enforcement.

Brennan's Colony was a community gathering place. As news of Brennan's death spread, community members began to gather on Lee Road to pay tribute to their friend. Some stopped to place flowers in front of the building, others gathered at businesses along Lee Road to have a bite and remember. Many gathered at the Tavern Company, which has an especially close connection with Brennan's Colony—both TavCo's owner, Chris Armington, and executive chef, Jamie Wyndbrandt, once worked with Jim Brennan at his restaurant.

Deanna Bremer Fisher

Deanna Bremer Fisher is executive director of FutureHeights and publisher of the Heights Observer.

Read More on Cleveland Heights
Volume 7, Issue 8, Posted 2:11 PM, 07.01.2014