While researching the origins of a structure in Grand River (Richmond) Ohio currently known as Brennan's Fish House we came across a 1957, 250 page, special edition of the Painesville Telegraph entitled "Welcome to the New Era". This New Era was the anticipation of the economic impact on the area caused by the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway. I personally recall this event and the flurry of optimistic speculation as to its impact on all of the Great Lakes ports. Unfortunately, nothing of substance happened here or elsewhere along the shores of Lake Erie aside from the introduction of the Zebra Mussel. This starry eyed anticipation has repeated itself throughout the years is characterized in this location and to the business(es) that is now Brennan's Fish House.
Sharon's Personal History
We bought Brennan's Fish House in 2006. Steve had a thriving carpentry business so, we decided that I would handle the day to day operations while Steve kept this great old building in proper repair. This was our long term plan but, God had other plans for us. We lost our beloved Steve suddenly in December 2016. It was heart wrenching for me and our 4 children. Our 3 sons (Tim, Tom & Mitch) all work with me in the restaurant while our daughter (Tessa) is away at college. This time has not been easy but we are all surrounded by wonderful friends, family & great customers. The love & concern shown to me & our family has been nothing short of amazing!!
Foundations of Brennans Fish House
The building that houses Brennan's Fish House was built in 1865 at the end of the Civil War; it was built as a hotel called the Richmond Inn. It never really took off as a hotel so the owners put in pool tables and started selling beer & fish to the local fishermen.
George & Martha Evans ran a diner here called Evan’s Lunch from 1927-1966. They raised their 10 children upstairs in the hotel rooms.
In 1966 Harry & Helen Jones bought the building & Harry ran it as a bar called “Harry’s” until 1973. Harry & Helen also lived in the rooms upstairs.
Tim & Betty Brennan took ownership in 1973 & ran it as Brennan’s Fish House. The Brennan’s expanded the original structure to add more dining space & turned it into the well know & loved restaurant it is today.
Sharon & Steve Hill purchased Brennan’s in 2006. They have continued to serve great food to great customers in a beautiful & historic building.
Some interesting facts about this area:
This building has never been closed! It has housed families and customers for over 150 years.
The artifacts on the walls were given to the Brennan’s or me by people in our community. People want their precious possessions here for all to enjoy. I take this gift very seriously, sometimes I feel like a caretaker of a museum!
The shelves we use to hold our liquor bottles, at the bar, were built in the very early 1900s. We have a picture hanging in the restaurant of George Evans, in front of that bar, from when the Evan’s owned the building.
The parking lot is made up of 10 parcels…this is where the fishermen & their families lived in little houses.
This was a very rough area early in its history; there were many bars down here along the river. There is a picture of “Pearl” on our walls. Pearl was a local saloon keeper, one tough lady! She kept a small knife in the belt around her dress and if you were acting up she would throw you out.. She also was an opera singer and married about 5 times, so I am sure quite a character
The building across the street from us, once was a fish processing plant. The fishermen would bring their catch up to the plant, the fish would be processed, loaded into wooden boxes (built by the local boys) packed with ice and put on trains to go to market.
The railroad tracks that run next to our building have been repaired and are now being used by a company called the Grand River Railway Co. They haul salt from Morton Salt right passed Brennan’s to be shipped off to other areas of the country. It is very exciting to be sitting here and have this beautiful locomotive pass right by you!
I love being a part of the wonderful history of this building and the area that surrounds us. I am very grateful to continue the traditions of those that came before me.