After more than a year of family squabbles, lawsuits and construction, Brennan’s, the legendary New Orleans restaurant, reopened for business in November. The iconic pink building was purchased at a foreclosure auction by restaurateur Ralph Brennan, a cousin of the former owners, and his business partner, Terry White. After they secured the rights to the name, rooster logo, menus, recipes and memorabilia, they spent the next five months excavating and restoring the 1795 building in the French Quarter. Total cost: about $20 million, White told a reporter for NOLA.com, the Times-Picayune website.
The result is a more contemporary concept that remains true to the restaurant’s legacy, says Brennan. The biggest change is on the first floor. “We gutted the space to create a dining room with large windows that face Royal Street and bring in plenty of sunlight,” he says. To further open up the space, the bar was moved across the room. “Pedestrians can now see all the way through to the courtyard.” The relocated kitchen also has a window so passersby can watch the action, drawing them in.
Many of the menu’s original dishes remain, but new executive chef Slade Rushing is adding his signatures and elevating classics with modern techniques and local ingredients. His Eggs Benedict, for example, features eggs cooked sous vide then poached, an English muffin made from scratch and house-cured Canadian bacon. “Breakfast at Brennan’s,” a holdover from the original, now begins at 8 a.m.—an hour earlier than in the past.
Location: New Orleans
Footprint: 16,000 square feet
Seating: 300 inside, 60 in the courtyard
Key features: Two private dining rooms; 9,000- bottle wine cellar; seven different chair styles; exterior paint matched to near-original pink