Dick Brennan Sr., New Orleans restaurateur, has died at age 84

Dick Brennan Sr., a prominent member of the first generation of New Orleans' famed family of restaurateurs, died Saturday (March 14) of natural causes at the age of 84, a publicist for Dickie Brennan & Co. has confirmed in a press release. He was surrounded by family members, the release said.

Dickie Brennan Jr., through a publicist, commented, "Our dad was kind, gentle and giving. He was a mentor, visionary, leader and statesman. He loved his family, friends, staff, city, state and country. His motto was "leave it better than you found it." He was the ultimate New Orleanian and a true Irishman! We are going to really miss him!"

Mr. Brennan was a driving force behind the award-winning Commander's Palace. Until he retired in the mid-1990s, he was a constant presence in the restaurant's kitchen.

Along with his sister Ella, Mr. Brennan in 1984 co-wrote "The Commander's Palace New Orleans Cookbook." Under their direction, Commander's Palace won in 1993 a James Beard Award for outstanding service and in 1996 for outstanding restaurant.

Gene Bourg, former Times-Picayune restaurant critic, once wrote of Mr. Brennan in a 1998 article about Commander's Palace:

"Dick Brennan, one of the proprietors, is the 'weather man' who decides which days and nights the expansive, oak-shaded patio at Commander's is useable for meals. When it is, expect a memorable 'nouvelle Creole' meal from chef Emeril Lagasse under the graceful old oaks, especially at night when they're illuminated, or at a Saturday or Sunday brunch, when the sounds of live jazz waft through the trees."

Indeed, Mr. Brennan was credited with coming up with the idea of the restaurant's jazz brunch. Of the elder Brennan, Lagasse once told The Times-Picayune, "You could have no better mentors than Ella and Dick. They are absolutely the best. They are legends. They are masters of the restaurant business."

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