September 24, 2022
Local News

Late McHenry County restaurateur Brett Coleman remembered as friend to all

Late restaurateur Brett Coleman remembered as friend to all

Brett Coleman never met a stranger.

The words used in a tribute by Coleman’s in Cary pretty much sum up Coleman, known throughout McHenry County as not only a business leader, but someone who touched the lives of many. Brett Ralph Coleman died at age 67 on Dec. 11 after a battle with COVID-19.

“He was one of a kind,” said one of his three sons, Brady Coleman of Crystal Lake. “I’m devastated that he’s left us, but I am filled with so much gratitude because of the father he was to us all.

“I’m just so grateful I had such an amazing teacher to show me how to show up for people and connect with people.”

Along with his sons, Brady, Seth and Egan; Brett Coleman is survived by his daughter, Mae; and his wife, Ann. Brady recently bought the Crystal Lake home he grew up in from his parents, who moved to Cary. He hopes to continue his father’s legacy of hosting so many family gatherings through the years.

Very much involved in the Cary bar and grill owned and operated by the Coleman family since 1996, Brett Coleman still was going into the business daily before his illness, his son said.

He began running restaurants in his early 20s, following in the footsteps of his father. He’d grown up in Woodstock, where his father once ran a restaurant and bar. Through the years, Brett Coleman owned and operated bars and restaurants in at least six different locations in Elgin, Dundee, Chicago, Crystal Lake, Cary and Algonquin. He also built and owned a Holiday Inn Express in Algonquin.

The number of people he worked with, employed, mentored and helped seem endless.

Tributes, messages and condolences to the family fill social media.

“We were all better for knowing him. We lost one of the truly good ones.”

“Our girls both worked for him, and they always cherished how wonderful he was to work for. We will miss you Brett.”

“Such a wonderful, kind man. We will miss seeing him when we walk through the doors.”

“There was never anyone that was more fun to be around than Brett.”

Fellow restaurateurs responded with numerous tributes. A post from Port Edward in Algonquin called him “a staple in the restaurant industry since the late 1970s.”

“We will miss your energetic personality and your great self,” Cattleman’s Burger and Brew in Algonquin posted on social media.

Cary Chamber of Commerce President Lynn Caccavallo knew him both through his businesses and as a friend. Three of her six children worked for him at various times.

Living nearby, she’d frequent his restaurant.

“He’d always come over to the table and ask how the kids were doing,” she said. “He was very kind and had so much knowledge. … Anytime I needed something, I just had to pick up the phone and ask him. He was the kind of person who said, ‘What do you need? It’s yours.’ ”

In a tribute posted on the Facebook page for Coleman’s in Cary, Brett Coleman is described as “our friend, our leader, our mentor, our coach, our cheerleader and occasionally our court jester.”

The tribute went on to say, “He had the compassion of a priest, the joviality of a comedian, the wisdom of a nurse and the heart of a lion. That heart was made of gold. Whether you need sage advice or someone to liven up the party it was all there in one package.”

Along with the outpouring of condolences, the Coleman family is touched by the amount of people sending food. That’s something Brett, who also ran a catering business, would do, Brady Coleman said.

“Whenever someone would pass away, he would be there the next day with his catering food so they didn’t have to cook for the next few days,” he said. “A dozen people stopped by that have said he’s done that for him. So much he did we didn’t even know about, always giving to others, always helping out.

“It’s amazing how many people he’s touched.”