BROOK – When Eric and Elizabeth Phegley purchased the building at 127 W. Main Street in downtown Brook several years ago they had no idea that one day they would be starting up a small breakfast cafe, called Brook Community Breakfast.
“When we originally bought the property it was an apartment building,” said Eric. “We had owned it for about five years when we lost some tenants and decided to do a major remodel on it. I had a feeling that the building had a tin ceiling and when I discovered it I knew what we needed to do.”
“He came back home and convinced me into opening a breakfast place,” laughed Elizabeth.
With a vision in mind, it took a year and a half to completely finish the remodeling, and the end product maybe even better than the original vision.
With the tin ceiling gleaming down from the top, the exposed break with vintage memorabilia hanging on the walls, the resurfaced original hardwood floors, and the belt-driven ceiling fans, the atmosphere is vintage industrial atmosphere unique to downtown Brook.
“We have had some patrons that have told us that this is something they would see in Chicago and not something they would expect to see in Brook,” said Elizabeth.
Most of the remodeling work was down by Eric, who owns a construction company with the help of many friends and family. However, Eric is the main cook for the cafe that offers a full breakfast menu that features omelets, skillets, daily fresh doughnuts, and cinnamon rolls, biscuits and gravy made from scratch, and the house specialty called “The Vault” — which is a take on the building formerly being the home to the Bank of Brook and Brook Community Bank. Another unique twist to the menu is the usage of smoked sausage in different menu items.
“That is how we came up with our name of Brook Community Breakfast instead of Brook Community Bank, and the vault is visible inside along with a couple of very old safes,” added Eric. “This building has so much history, we want to recreate a photo that was taken out front of the building in 1920 when it was the Bank of Brook to show that 100 years later the building is still being used just in a different capacity. It also added to the making of our slogan ‘Breakfast You Can Bank On.’ We are the owners but we will be working here each day it is open, that is how small businesses can really make it when the owners are involved.”
Brook Community Breakfast had three soft openings before its first official day which was Sept. 3.
“It was nice and steady this morning and we also got some big to-go orders,” said Elizabeth. “It was a very good first day but not too overwhelming either.”
The couple wanted to open a breakfast spot for several reasons including family ties to the area, Eric’s love of cooking breakfast, and to bring some more life to downtown Brook.
“I have always done the breakfast cooking and it is what I like to cook,” added Eric. “Plus we try to buy most of our stuff from local places including our meat which comes from the Brook Locker. Everything is cooked to order to make sure everything is at its freshest.”
For Elizabeth, her great grandparents used to own Brown’s General Store in Foresman and her parents bought it and ran if for a few years before selling it.
“My father grew up in this area, so while we do live in Rensselaer we do have family history here.”
For now, the couple will focus on the breakfast side but some point in the future adding lunch to the menu is not out of the question.
“It is not a matter of if we will add lunch it’s a matter of when,” said Eric.
Brook Community Breakfast is open Tuesday through Saturday from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m. and on Sundays from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“We just want to give a special thanks to all of our family and friends who have helped us so much to get to this point,” added Eric. “I also think people need to remember to support their small local businesses, especially during a time like this.”