Michigan restauranter Johnny Brann is not going to stop his flags from flying. Brann is the owner of Brann’s restaurants, a series of steakhouses dispersed throughout Michigan. One of them, his Leonard St.
location in Grand Rapids, has a unique feature. The eatery has a group of flags and signs dedicated to fallen heroes decorating its exterior. The commemorative decorations have donned Brann’s restaurant for five years, but recently he received a violation notice from the city saying he needs to take them down. Brann does not intend to do that.
The flags are located on the side of the building. Each one is labeled, “American Hero”, with the name of a fallen soldier or law enforcement officer underneath. The badge or sigil of the branch that hero served under is displayed next to the name. Above each flag is an additional nameplate that also displays the hero’s name. The honored dead had a personal connection to the restaurant and Grand Rapids. According to news sources, the flags used to be located on top of the building but were then moved to the side. The nameplates above them were added about a year ago. Either of these could explain the city’s sudden interest, but the truth is that the violation comes at the behest of a complaint.
“I understand the city has to respond to complaints from the community,” Johnny Brann stated in an interview, “I respect and understand this process. I received the notices, I read them, and I filed them away. But that where they will stay, because I am not taking the flags down.” Brann is already planning to file an appeal with the city and is backed by enormous support from the surrounding community.
The situation with Brann’s restaurant has pulled in support groups, customers, and members of law enforcement. Organizations like Back the Badge and TeamG8#38 have shown up at the restaurant to stand with Brann as he holds his ground. “Honoring the people who make sacrifices for the community is important,” Amy Waltrop, who is a member of Back the Badge, said, “We get that every city has ordinances but this is more important.”
Some of Brann’s supporters are confused that there is an issue to begin with. According to Johnny, the flags have been flying for five years. So why now? One of the flags honors a U.S. Army specialist by the name of Eric Burri. His father, John Burri, is one of the many who are scratching their heads. “What is upsetting is that they have been flying for a while now,” He said, “And all of a sudden someone decides to do something and complain.”
John, along with many others, believes that the flags should stay. Not just because his son is honored but also because it is Brann’s restaurant. “This is his business. He owns the building. In a country that is supposed to be free where do you draw the line.”
According to Johnny Brann, that line is drawn with his flags. No matter what he is not going to take them down. “I made a commitment to these hero’s families,” Brann stated, “I said that they would be honored. It is not just important to them but to me as well.”