Brown’s Grocery: New and improved

Thelma Ryan, manager of Brown’s Grocery, shows off the new sub sandwich deli. (Photos by Erica Lawson)

HOLT, Fla., Oct. 13, 2021—Brown’s Grocery has a new look in its hot food section.

In fact, just about everything is new, from the grill to the fryer to the vent hood system. There’s even a submarine sandwich deli.

With a new kitchen comes upscaled takeout menu choices beyond breakfast biscuit sandwiches and fried chicken and mullet for lunch.

“We wanted to give Holt a variety of food to choose from,” said Brown’s manager Thelma Ryan.

For starters, breakfast choices are pretty much unlimited, she said.

“We can make everything that Waffle House has,” she said. And then some, especially with two former Waffle House cooks.

There’s waffles, pancakes, French toast, loaded hash browns, biscuits and gravy (or even with tomato gravy) on the menu along with eggs fixed just about any way: scrambled, fried and omelets.

Lunch choices include the standard lunch every day, Hunt Brothers pizza, plus a daily lunch special, said Ryan.

The menu includes hamburger, fried chicken, chicken tenders, ribeye, seafood dinners (crab bites, catfish, shrimp, oysters), tacos and barbecue sandwiches.

“The subs are pretty good, too,” said Ryan.

The sub sandwich deli has just about every combination available from standard turkey and ham to chicken teriyaki, meatball marinara and grilled barbecue chicken in both 6-inch and 12-inch sizes.

And an expanded drink station includes fresh coffee and homemade ice tea as well as fountain soft drinks.

Hungry customers can call in orders to Brown’s main line at 850-537-8111.

Getting everything lined up—permits, inspections, utilities—has been a work in progress, with quite a few headaches, Ryan said.

The plan was for all the changes to be in place by Thanksgiving last year.

“Then COVID,” she said.

Everything slowed down to a crawl as the pandemic swept Florida, the United States and the rest of the world.

Customers could see changes taking place during the past two years as floors and ceilings were redone, indoor seating was added, the drink station was moved and updated, food shelves were reorganized and the kitchen area was expanded.

Behind the scenes, the “boat house” in back of the store was finished inside, the floor leveled and tiled, and the space stocked with industrial freezers and refrigerators to support the upscaled kitchen.

Now, everything is shiny and new.

“It took a lot of work to get it to that point,” Ryan said.

Brown’s gets its name from former owner George Brown, Ryan’s uncle, who purchased the grocery store from his cousin, Elton Adams, who owned and operated Adams Market.

Brown’s Grocery included beef cut to order from sides of beef hanging in a cooler at the back door, said Ryan.

“When I was small, George still did that,” she said. “We had amazing meats when George was here.”

Ryan’s relationship with Brown’s goes back to her birth.

“The day I came home from the hospital, George put me in the vegetable scale to weight me,” she said.

What makes Ryan happy about the changes is when people come in and tell her “George would be proud.”

“That makes it all worthwhile,” she said.

Brown’s Grocery was sold to Kwick Deal Inc. out of Tampa in 2007. It is operated through Kwick Deal Holt LLC.

Stephanie Holcombe

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s