The really big news

Forget Edward Snowden, the Syrian revolution, Egypt’s echo-revolution, or who’ll win “America’s Got Talent.” The big news last week for anyone in this business has to be the closing of Brennan’s.

There are few fine-dining landmarks that can rival it in fame and distinction. Start with its role as a definer of New Orleans as a world-class dining destination. Add its distinction as a leading proponent of Creole cooking. Thicken the roux with a slew of distinctions, like developing Bananas Foster, or serving a bread pudding that you could build a vacation around. It’s reinvigorated itself more times than David Bowie, and must consistently rank as one of New Orleans’ top tourist attractions.

Yet last week the sheriff’s office evicted management and foreclosed on the place. Details are murky, in the style of any New Orleans scandal, but it appears squabbling among the Brennans currently in charge cost the 67-year-old place its lease, then its economic viability. Staffers who showed up for work on Friday learned they no longer held some of the culinary city’s most coveted service jobs.

Curiously, a few local news reports say the place has already been scarfed up with another Brennan from a different branch of the family. If those reports are true, New Orleans is fortunate indeed. Ralph Brennan has his aunt Ella’s golden touch with restaurants, but a demeanor that seems to dampen political infighting. It must be the accountant in him. He knows how to create and run good restaurants, and his immaculate white hat can only help in restoring luster to the Brennan’s name.

Still, the news was almost too bad to be true.  Like Locke-Ober in Boston, Tavern on the Green in New York, or Chasen’s in West Hollywood, the restaurant industry lost one of its legends last week.


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