In July 2019, I was living and working in Singapore when I received the devastating news that my brother Ben, 54 at the time, had been diagnosed with Glioblastoma Multiforme, an extremely aggressive form of brain cancer. It quickly became apparent that he could no longer live independently, so I made the difficult but necessary decision to return to my hometown of Houston to take care of him. Unfortunately his condition deteriorated quickly, and he passed away on July 27, 2020.
The silver lining of this terrible journey is that I was able to reconnect with several of my Houston-area friends, including high school bestie Cathy Krznar. We were paired up as roommates our sophomore year at boarding school, St. Stephen’s Episcopal High School in Austin, and a lasting friendship was formed.
One evening during the Covid pandemic, over fine wine and even better conversation, Cathy and I came up with the idea of starting a business to honour my brother’s memory. Anyone who met my brother knew he was an accomplished, self-taught guitarist who played left-handed (even though he was right-handed), and his guitar idol was Johnny Thunders. Ben’s friends appreciated his affinity for the 1970’s-era pioneering punk guitarist, and christened him ‘Benny Thunders’.
It was heartbreaking to watch my brother’s musical ability disintegrate as the cancer spread, but his talents live on in the memories of those who knew him and heard him play.
We don’t always get the outcomes we hope for, but this experience has taught me to appreciate the present and not take it for granted. Cathy and I hope you appreciate our rationale for opening Benny Thunders, and that you will make some lasting memories of your own at our bar.