Remembering Kurt Brahms, 54


The owner of Brewers Towne Tavern in Haddon Township died Sunday after a long battle with cancer.

By Matt Skoufalos | March 13, 2019

Brewers Towne Tavern. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.

Brewers Towne Tavern was dark Sunday night, an unusual sight on any day of the week at the popular Haddon Township corner bar.

The silence there marked the passing of owner Kurt Brahms of Haddon Heights, who’d died at home that day after a long battle with cancer.

Brahms, 54, was a popular local figure, well liked for his richness of spirit, willingness to help those in need, and love of a good time.

He took pride in operating the tavern on his own terms, and was a constant and welcoming presence there.

Bill Brahms of Haddon Township remembers his brother as having “an army of friends,” all of whom have flooded in with sympathies and well-wishes in the days since his passing.

Kurt’s expansive social circle was “one of the big draws about his bar,” Bill said, pointing to the tagline on its sign: “Where Friends Meet.”

“That really starts with Kurt,” Bill said. “He’s always been that way. I’ve never known anyone with so many friends.”

Kurt’s death was another significant blow for his 14-year-old son, Jacob, whose mother Denise passed from cancer when he was only 3. But Bill said the friends who’d supported the family through her struggles encircled them just as firmly through Jake’s upbringing and Kurt’s subsequent illness.

Denise, Kurt, and Jake Brahms. Credit: Brahms family.

“Jake’s a great kid,” Bill said of his nephew, “and it’s because Kurt had a big network of friends and family.

“It served him in good times and bad.”

His friends and family were there at the end, too: Haddon Heights firefighter-EMT Stephen Kinky, Kurt’s nephew, was among the first responders to the 9-1-1 call at his passing.

Jake Brahms is also a junior explorer with the company.

Andrew Huber tended bar at Brewers for 12 of the 13 years that Kurt Brahms owned it.

Huber remembered his friend for his generosity, companionship, and reluctance to dwell on the negative circumstances of his life.

“[Kurt] always wanted to have fun,” Huber said. “It was not hard to get him out of the house to do anything.”

But at the same time, Huber thinks that outlook may have masked how serious his illness had become.

“[Kurt] didn’t want people fussing over him,” Huber said. “He wouldn’t brood on things.”

Brewers co-owner Glenn Wira, who bought the bar with Kurt Brahms in 2006, said he’ll honor the legacy of his friend and partner by keeping it open as an independent operation.

“The plan is really no change,” Wira said. “We’re going to continue to do what we originally wanted to do, which was turn that corner into a thriving business and an alternative for our friends to the bigger corporate entities in town.

Kurt and Denise Brahms. Credit: Brahms family.

 “Kurt really had that place running well,” he said.

“He’s got a great staff. When he was ill, I don’t think they ever really missed a beat.

Brewers was created and managed around its welcoming atmosphere, but Wira lent some additional depth of understanding to the intention behind the name of the bar, which he said has only recently been realized.

“Kurt and I wanted to bring in a lot of different opportunities for breweries to showcase their beers in there,” Wira said. “That’s where ‘Brewers’ came from.

“We envisioned the people in the [Haddon] Towne Center would call it the ‘Towne Tavern,’ but it took forever for [the project]to get done, so ‘Brewers’ kind of stuck” as a nickname, he said.

“But there was a plan 13 years ago, that when that thing got built, that Brewers would become a thriving business,” Wira said. “That’s become realized.

“We just want to make sure that [Kurt’s] legacy is maintained, and that Jake is taken care of,” he said. “I think the town is already rallying around that.”

Kurt Brahms’ viewing will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. March 14 at the Evoy-Banasz Funeral Home in Haddon Heights; the funeral services and interment will be private affairs.

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