'We've been blessed': Popular diner to close after 55 years

Brookfield Restaurant, a popular diner and store in Ottawa, will close after 55 years in business.                                (Patrick Louiseize/CBC - image credit)
Brookfield Restaurant, a popular diner and store in Ottawa, will close after 55 years in business. (Patrick Louiseize/CBC - image credit)

When Brookfield Restaurant opened on July 1, 1967 a loaf of bread cost a couple of dimes and owner, Joyce Aboud, was just 12 years old.

Later this month, Aboud will close the Ottawa restaurant and retire after a lifetime of greeting customers, corralling hungry high school students, and memorizing orders.

"It's been 55 years of my life. On the one hand it's been hard but on the other hand it's been easy. My life has been here and my whole social life has been here," she told the CBC's Hallie Cotnam on Thursday.

"My family are my customers."

When it comes to her regulars, she knows how they take their coffee and what their favourite food order is. She knows when Station 34 firefighters from next door drop in, they bring in their extra large plates and when Phil arrives it's always scrambled eggs, bacon and a Pepsi.

My family are my customers. - Joyce Aboud, Restaurant owner

Brookfield Restaurant serves diner fare, including some Lebanese specialties, and sells convenience store sundries along with a range of take-out food including deli sandwiches. It's known for a particularly good turkey, tomato and havarti sandwich on egg bread, as well as smoked meat.

"We've been blessed. This place has always been busy," said Aboud.

With Brookfield High School just down the street, the store often sees students drop buy for a quick snack or some candy. Sometimes it can get so hectic someone has to keep an eye on the door, directing students where to go.

"I'll miss the high school kids, believe it or not," she said with a laugh.

Hallie Cotnam/CBC
Hallie Cotnam/CBC

Family business from the start

When Aboud's parents, Nash and Yvonne Aboud, opened Brookfield Restaurant on Canada Day 55 years ago, the family lived on the floor above in a small house. The home was actually moved to Brookfield Road from Walkley Road and jacked up, and the family business was built underneath.

When her father died in 1970, just a few years after opening day, Aboud's mother took it over.

"My mom basically ran the place and in those days it was seven days a week," she said.

Patrick Louiseize/CBC
Patrick Louiseize/CBC

With her dad gone, Aboud stepped up to help her mother and eventually took it over herself on July 1, 1987.

"It's hard work. There's so many hours that you have to put into a restaurant. You have to be a real workaholic," she said.

When the restaurant celebrated its 55th anniversary this past summer, Aboud announced it was time to hang up her white apron.

"I just decided I have four little grandkids and I want to spend time with them, and this place just takes up too much of my time," she said.

"This place needs to be open at night and on the weekends and I just can't do that anymore nor do I want to."

Aboud is throwing a party for her staff and customers on Saturday to celebrate the decades in business. While Brookfield Restaurant is closing, the site will remain a restaurant. Aboud is renting out the location to The House of Greek and Riverside Pizza.

Patrick Louiseize/CBC
Patrick Louiseize/CBC