I have this picture of my older brother, Dean, in the restaurant.
It’s under the Plexiglas on the countertop along with some other photos and a copy of the menu placed there to hide the holes in the Formica.
I wanted humorous, food-related pictures to make customers smile. I like this one of Dean. It’s cute and famous in our family because my father won an amateur photography award for it.
I also wanted a photo or some recognition of Dean at Frank’s Kitchen because he was very instrumental in helping us open the restaurant.
Dean came out to Denver from Washington DC for our mother’s 80th birthday party in November 201o. Frank and I had recently signed the lease for the restaurant and decided we would tell my family during Mom’s party. (Held at the El Dorado room of the Avenue Grill, which I highly recommend). I thought we’d wait for the right moment _ after Mom and Dad had had a few drinks _ before breaking the news, but I had barely taken off my coat when I heard folks congratulating Frank who was already passing out our new Frank’s Kitchen business cards. Dean was particularly impressed and said something about wanting to help us with the new venture. I made a mental note to get with Dean sometime after the party. But I never did.
In fact, I don’t think I ever spoke to him again after that weekend, other than trading a few emails and text messages. The day after Christmas that year he called my mother and told her he was dying of liver cancer, he had made his peace with God and he wanted to come home. He never made it back to Colorado. He passed away Jan. 2, 2011 in a Maryland hospital. He died in his sleep, his partner, Tim, holding his hand. He was 53.
We learned Dean had increased his life insurance so he could leave some money to his four surviving siblings. Frank and I put ever dime we received from Dean into the restaurant. I think that was what he would have wanted us to do. It was an unexpected gift, a blessing in the middle of our heartache.
Someone asked me the other day if I had any New Year’s resolutions. I’ve never been one to make those. Our focus in 2012 is the same as in 2011: to make Frank’s Kitchen an established, neighborhood restaurant and a viable, income-producing business for us and for future employees. We are resolved only to give it our best and in doing so, honor my brother, Dean Phillip Cowan.
Rest in peace, my big brother. I miss you.