ABILENE, Kan. —Mark Martin’s family restaurant weathered two world wars, the Dust Bowl, and the Great Depression, serving up heaping plates of hand-battered fried chicken, mashed potatoes and creamed corn to a devoted clientele. But it could not survive the pandemic. “We’re kind of in shock that this will be the end of it for us,” said Martin, the fourth generation to run the Brookville Hotel, a name that reflects its origins as a small hotel in nearby Brookville, Kansas that his family acquired in 1894.
Customers are also reeling. Mary Stirtz and her husband, local retirees, would pick up dinner almost every warm Friday night and eat it at nearby Eisenhower Park while they watched the swimmers in the outdoor pool. They celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in the park two years ago, with 35 dinners from Brookville for extended family and friends who attended. “We loved it,” she said. “We just loved it.”