There’s nothing like being in third place. That’s what Leslee Foukal hopes you think about Brent’s. She’s not talking about competition, but comfort. The new general manager of the nearly 66 year old soda fountain wants Brent’s to be your third place. “There’s this phrase meaning work is one, home is two,” she says, “so really, we hope Brent’s becomes three.” Foukal’s desire since becoming manager mid April has been to make the diner a real center piece for Fondren. “Without this community, we would not have been here as long as we have. The people who were kids when it opened who bring their kids and their kids’ kids; these types of local places don’t survive without that support.”

Foukal comes to Brent’s after two years as manager of Sneaky Beans and before that, a two year stint at Cups. The 26 year old Belhaven grad was contacted by owner Brad Reeves about moving Brent’s in a new direction. “We share the same vision,” Reeves says “and want to see Fondren and Brent’s do well.” After a meeting of the minds over breakfast one day, he felt she was the right fit. “Leslee knows Fondren’s personality and what we’re going for. She’s driven and self motivated. I knew she’d give 110% – and she already has. She’s amazing and loving. I just knew this would be great and work out well.”

Foukal has made her home in this neighborhood for the last five years and said Reeves’ desires follow her own philosophy. “Business as community development? It’s cool to step into that. Sneaky Beans got me started on running a venue. I’m excited to take that next step.” Foukal cites the large space of Brent’s as a way to make it all happen. “We want to foster community, bring in events and make Brent’s a place to gather.”

So what’s on tap at Brent’s? Foukal says her top priority is to continue to amp up their customer service, training staff on how to get food in and out quickly but also, how to enjoy Brent’s. “We’re playing around with a bunch of stuff, but nothing is set in stone.” One thing we’re glad to hear is that Sunday brunch is on the way. “As soon as possible,” she tells us. Extended Saturday/Sunday breakfast, extended weekday hours, ‘breakfast for dinner’ at Fondren after 5, maybe even once a week — all on Foukal’s lengthy agenda. “We want to stay true to our vision and mission of being a great local diner that’s family and community friendly. We’re open for ideas suggestions what that looks like. We want community in making changes.” At the end of the day, Foukal says all of the chaos of doing something new is rewarding. “I’ve put in a lot of hours. But I walk away everyday thinking, ‘I’m supposed to be doing this.’ “