Brass Kettle Family Restaurant, the popular breakfast/lunch spot that has spanned generations in Sanford, announced this week it will be closing its doors at the end of July after its owner received a notice that the land it has occupied for 37 years has been sold.
Owner Chris Granter, who in 2019 took over the business his grandmother started at 2401 South Horner Boulevard, said he was notified in April by local real estate agency Simpson & Simpson Inc. of the transaction and was given a few months to vacate.
The Rant attempted to contact Simpson & Simpson — by email on Friday and by leaving a message with an administrative assistant on Monday — to ask about the transaction and the notice to Brass Kettle, but had not received a response as of late Monday. According to county records, Simpson & Simpson owns three parcels of land where the Brass Kettle sits, the land formerly occupied by Wendy’s and a vacant lot at the intersection of Horner Boulevard and Main Street (N.C. 42).
According to Granter, the business received a certified letter from the agency in mid April informing him of the news. He’s spent the last month looking for lease options for local commercial real estate, to no avail, he says. He says the decision to close on July 31 will allow the business to have a few weeks to move out before the official deadline.
Asked if he attempted to work with the agency to buy the building or keep the land, Granter said it was never presented as an option.
“Years ago, [Simpson & Simpson] tried to buy my grandmother out of a long-term lease, and she didn’t want to do it, because this was one of the most prime locations in town,” Granter says. “After that, they would never let us renew a long-term lease. So it’s always kind of been up in the air — [losing the building] is a thought I had when I took over three years ago. But then COVID hit, then staff shortages and now inflation, we’ve dealt with so many other nightmares, that I didn’t have time to worry about [the land.”
“But we’ve survived. We’ve paid all of our bills on time, and our employees get paid. This restaurant supports my household, my daughter’s, my mother’s and my grandmother, who still technically owns the business.”
Brass Kettle has remained a fixture in the ever-evolving southern end of Sanford for 37 years. Several restaurants have come and gone around it since 1985, and Granter says post-pandemic business has been good this year.
“We have people standing outside the door for a long time on weekends,” he says. “Weekdays are hit and miss, but we have a loyal following and tons of regulars.”
The news comes after a series of additions, improvements and planned improvements to the aging structure, Granter says. A new logo painted on the storefront, recently purchased grills and plans for roof repairs and new blinds were on the horizon, he says.
The Granter family got into the restaurant business in the 1960s with a Perkins Pancake House in Mansfield, Ohio. Roland and Lucille Granter moved to Sanford and opened a restaurant at the Palomino Motel in the mid 1980s. Around that time, the family launched the Brass Kettle in the under-developed southern side of Sanford — at the time, it was open 24 hours a day and served dinner as well. Eventually, the Granters dropped dinner and kept the breakfast and lunch menus, enjoying decades of business until 2022.
Chris Granter started bussing tables at the family business at 20, swearing then that he would never work in the restaurant business again. After working in the manufacturing industry for a few years, Granter returned to Brass Kettle to help his mother run the business, and he officially took over in 2019. Now his children work part-time to help with recent staff shortages.
Granter is hesitant to call the land sale “unfair,” because he says they always knew that was a possibility. He said Simpson & Simpson have offered to help find a new location, but the current commercial real estate market is hot, and there aren’t any options available currently.
The restaurant will close on July 31, but that doesn’t mean it won’t return.
“We’re hoping something works out,” he says. “We’re going to keep looking and keep trying.”
Editor’s Note: The Rant will update this story if it receives a statement from Simpson & Simpson