Kelso the Panamanian place at 648 Franklin — Brooklynian

Kelso the Panamanian place at 648 Franklin

Update as of Sept 2014: Title of thread was changed.

The owner, Veronica, is reportedly closing the restaurant because her business can't make enough to pay the increased rent which would be required if she renews her lease.

So, she is going to focus on the catering side of her business.

...the storefront will soon be vacant.


  • Oh no! That place is an institution and has some great food. Glad to hear she's going to keep catering.

  • Yes, Kelso and and the nearby Pana Store were/are the last hold outs of Franklin's formerly large Panamanian community.

    The Daily News ran an article today (6/3/2013)on Franklin Ave's thriving dining scene:

    Although not yet closed, Kelso wasn't mentioned....

  • I've been here long enough to think of Kelso and Fatima as the real holdouts of Franklin Ave... wow. In my head this is the tipping point; no longer a changing community, it's just changed.

  • Yup.

    BTW, the space formerly occupied by Fatima is expected to reopen soon as a bar with food, Docklands.

  • That is a loss! A craving for Kelso's pepper steak or chuletas would more motivate me to make the trek to Franklin than any of the new or fancy places (many of which are great, don't get me wrong). Does anyone know the exact closing date so I can have one last fling?

  • An exact date has not been set.

    It is sounding as if it will close by Aug 1, 2013. So, you have about 7 weeks.

  • this sucks.

  • I suspect business at the restaurant has been on the decline as a result of the neighborhood's changing preferences, so it doesn't come as a surprise that a rent increase caused it to close.

    Adapt or perish.

    For better or worse.

  • June 18, 2013:

    I am getting reports that it closed for good over this past weekend, much quicker than my off hand Aug 1 estimate.

    If the landlord is ambitious, s/he will have it emptied and ready for viewing by prospective tenants by July 1. In the current environment, I think predicting another sit down restraunt or a bar is a safe bet.

  • whynot_31 said:

    Yes, Kelso and and the nearby Pana Store were/are the last hold outs of Franklin's formerly large Panamanian community.

    The Daily News ran an article today (6/3/2013)on Franklin Ave's thriving dining scene:

    Although not yet closed, Kelso wasn't mentioned....

    I don't think Kelso was doing well for a while. They went through a bout of doing Groupon for a while. Also, Pana Store isn't that old. It used to be a decent sit down Carribean place, Saje. Apparently the owner wasn't nice but the food was good.

  • ^ Saje was a hot mess on all levels. It does, however, hold the distinction of being the first gentrified place on the Ave-- 2006, i believe.

  • There does seem to often be a correlation between a restaurant offering Groupon, and them going out of business.

    It seems like places use it when business is on the decline, as an act of desperation.

  • It might be a last-minute grab for cash that they know they'll never need to deliver any merchandise on if they close up shop.

  • Saje sucked. Massively overpriced for the area at the time, and a staff that actively went out of their way to be jerks. I ordered a ham and cheese croissant once, and they gave me a pre-packaged croissant that they sliced open and handed to me with a slice of ham and slice of American. Not even warmed. And it was like $6! And the server was a dick.

    Yes, I'm still bitter.

    Then again, that was 2006 or so. Saje was just too early... if they'd opened in 2009, I'm sure it would've thrived.

  • I'd like to think that Groupon effectively minimizes such temptations by its participating businesses, because it would impact Groupon's long term reputation and therefore viability.

    ....I'd hope the Department of Consumer Affairs would play a role too.

    I am under the impression that businesses "in trouble" use Groupon as a desperate attempt to expand their customer base. The "deep discounts" cause them lose money in the short run, but they hope to get it back in the form of longterm customers.

    Regardless her motivation for using Groupon, in this instance, I think the owner of Kelso judged her prospects correctly:

    -The present neighborhood was/is not willing to support her business to the degree that she could pay the renewal rent. She was wise to minimize her losses (maximize her profits?) and close.

    From what I have heard, Kelso was open since the late 60s, and has changed owners a few times. I'm not sure how long she owned it, but I hope her next venture is as (or more) profitable then this was.

    One certainly needs a lot of investment capital and management skill to open a business and effectively compete on Franklin Avenue.

  • Kelso has now been closed about 2 months, but heads up, an entity has expressed an interest in serving alcohol here:

    "Kelso Bistro & Restaurant" would like a full liquor lic.

    I'm not certain they have anything to do with the old entity, but they certainly have an almost identical name.

    ...seems like this place must be coming back in a renovated, upscale new form.

    They are scheduled to appear on Monday, September 9, 2013 at 6:30 PM.

    CNR-Center Light Health Care Center, which is located at 727 Classon Avenue, Brooklyn, NY (between Park and Prospect Place).

  • A banner that states, Under New Management, Reopening Soon is now hung in front, and construction workers are busy remodeling inside.

    So, sounds like this business has nothing to do with Veronica.

  • At the CB8 SLA mtg, they voted to support Kelso's application to serve beer and wine.

    They will expand their support to include a full liquor lic, IF they are deemed to be far enough from a nearby church.

  • The church on St. Marks? The biker bar is even closer, and I assume it has a liquor license.

  • I am not sure which storefront church is believed to be closer than 200'. There was lots of discussion about whether the distance could be measured in a way that resulted in a distance of more than 200'.

    The Imperial Biker bar may predate the church it is near.

  • There's a storefront church across the street, on the other side of Franklin, I believe.

  • Wonder if CB8 SLA mtg called for Kelso to have a 1:00 AM curfew, as was required by the owners of Catfish, for support of a full liquor lic?

  • edited March 2014

    The Kelso people agreed to a time earlier than 4 AM. 

     I am pretty sure it will be 1 AM on Fri and Sat, and something earlier than that the rest of the week.

  • edited September 2014

    It seems that although this application was supported by the CB, the SLA rejected it. The application was previously requested by the mother.

    The daughter of the prior operator is now seeking a license under her name. She seeks a beer and wine lic, it would close at 11:30 on Sun - Thursday and 2 AM on Fri and Sat nights.

    The CB subcommittee supported the application.
  • edited June 2016

    June 2016:    Business now for sale.

    "A local favorite and neighborhood fixture, this Panamanian restaurant has been in the same location since 1963. Take over this business or start your own. Approx 1100 sq ft with 400 sq ft outdoor patio in rear and full basement. 2+ years left on a very under-market lease. Sale of the restaurant includes all equipment, fixtures, furnishings, as well as a NY State Liquor License. Renovated in 2013. DOH grade: A. Yelp rating: 4.5 stars (out of 5)."


  • edited October 2017
    It appears a taker has been found. A request for a liquor license has now been filed by an entity known as The Benjamin Taverns Inc., 648 Franklin Avenue (Bergen/St. Marks) – Full (patio or deck)
This discussion has been closed.