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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Brooklyn Deli closes in downtown Spokane

Customers watch a baseball game at Brooklyn Deli, 1001 W. First Ave., in October 2017. The downtown eatery recently closed its doors permanently.   (COLIN MULVANY/The Spokesman-Review)

The last Reuben sandwich has been served at the Brooklyn Deli in downtown Spokane.

The soup and sandwich shop at 1001 W. First Ave. is now empty and the Brooklyn Deli sign is leaning inside against the wall in a space that is up for lease for the first time since the restaurant relocated there in 2016.

The closure comes after the sudden death of Michael “Mike” Bonnes on May 28. His wife, Jody Harville-Bonnes, had operated the deli since she purchased it in 1999.

It previously operated at the corner of Third Avenue and Washington Street – and at a location just up the street at 122 S. Monroe St. – before moving to the space that previously was occupied by Far West Billiards.

The couple met at a concert at the Big Easy, which is now the Knitting Factory. After convincing Bonnes, a native of Minnesota, to move to Spokane from Moscow, Idaho, the couple married on June 16, 2011.

Bonnes didn’t quite make it to their 12th anniversary.

“We were planning on going to work Saturday morning and he started feeling ill,” she said. “On Sunday, I found him. He was gone.”

He was 46.

“We both were there for making our customers happy and making good food,” Harville-Bonnes said. “We both enjoyed music together. We always called that place our big barn. We built it out with friends. We always wanted to be in that space.”

The location came about because Jerry Dicker, owner of GVD Commercial Properties, liked to walk around downtown.

One day in 2015, Dicker walked into the deli, then at 122 S. Monroe St., and told the couple that he had space to lease around the corner.

“He said, ‘I really appreciate what you do. I have the old billiard hall up for lease,’ ” Harville-Bonnes said. “Our lease was up in our space, which we didn’t tell him. The timing was perfect.”

The couple and friends worked long hours to convert the much larger billiard hall into the working deli.

“We worked long, hard days but we put pride into it and really loved the space,” she said. “It was a hard, but easy, transition.”

COVID takes toll

Before everything got shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Brooklyn Deli operated from 11 a.m. to whenever the downtown crowd finally went home, which sometimes could be 9 p.m. or midnight, Harville-Bonnes said.

“We had eight employees before COVID hit,” she said. “When we opened back up, it was just Mike and I from that date on until he passed away. We were doing limited hours. It was really rough.”

The reduced hours meant the sandwich shop was only open for the lunch rush.

But, with remote work and the shock of the pandemic, the foot traffic in downtown Spokane never quite returned to its previous level, Harville-Bonnes said.

“There was nobody working downtown. It was unbelievable,” she said. “So many restaurants lost it. People were less willing to go out.

“The restaurant business is hard enough,” she continued, “then to have that laid on us. We made it, but some tragic things happened.”

As the couple struggled to keep the business afloat, Harville-Bonnes was diagnosed with cancer in June 2022.

“I lost most of my clientele,” she said. “The anxiety over COVID was bad, but the cancer stuff was just awful. That took a toll on both of us. We just kept getting punched in the gut.”

Harville-Bonnes recently made it through her treatments, before Bonnes fell ill. Through it all, however, the restaurant was paying the bills.

“I was finally getting back to work. We were planning on staying open later and possibly hiring on people so we could stay open later into the evening,” she said. “But we never got there.”

Harville-Bonnes, as she works through her grief, said she’ll take it slow before deciding her next move.

“I’m a dental assistant by trade. I’ll probably fall back on that,” she said. “I’m a hard worker and I like to do something. But, I’m keeping my eyes open and taking my time.”

Whatever she chooses as her next path, she carries forth only with the memories of Mike.

“He was the love of my life,” she said. “He was a very kind, generous and sweet man. We are all going to miss his beautiful blue eyes. He always said, ‘That’s what my momma gave me.’ ”