Dennis Gard, the founder and owner of Brewery City Pizza, died Jan. 24 at his Olympia home. He was 68, his sister, Irene French, said Tuesday.
French, who called his death shocking and sudden, said he died peacefully in his sleep.
“He was very driven, hard working, and a very loyal person to friends and business acquaintances,” she said about her brother. French, the office manager for Brewery City Pizza, said she has heard from the business community, as well as management staff and employees at the pizza business.
“He expected them to work hard, but he also treated them well,” French said.
She said a lot of people knew him as a businessman, but family was a priority, too. Gard had two daughters, Dannae and Molly.
“He would never miss any event that involved family,” French said.
Brewery City Pizza opened in 1982, eventually growing to as many as five locations, she said. The business today has restaurants in Lacey, west Olympia and Tumwater. The company employs 145 people, French said.
Gard was born in Iowa on March 9, 1948, to Keith and Dorothy Gard. The family moved to Thurston County on the recommendation of an uncle who was stationed at Fort Lewis.
“My uncle loved the area and talked my dad into bringing his family here,” French said.
The family first lived in Littlerock, then moved to Tumwater, where Dennis attended Tumwater High School. French said he attended Centralia College, but he was more driven to go into business.
“He was an entrepreneur,” she said. “It was just built in him.”
Perhaps Dennis got that from his parents, who owned Falls Tavern and later the Red Barn Tavern in Tumwater, now the site of Pints Barn, French said.
Gard started by buying the Southgate Big Tom drive-in in 1972. He later operated a Big Tom in Lacey on Sleater-Kinney Road, not far from where a McDonald’s restaurant is today.
Mark Lovrien, who had a hand in either building or remodeling the Brewery City Pizza locations, said Gard was a good guy who was loyal and honest.
“Once he liked you, he never went anywhere else,” Lovrien said.
Lovrien recalls that he worked on the Martin Way location twice because it burned in a fire in the 1990s.
“He was an all-around good guy,” he said.
A celebration of life is set for noon Monday at the Lacey Community Center, 6729 Pacific Ave. SE.