As the last weekend of Mardi Gras revved up, Ted Brennan’s Decatur reopened its doors.
Earlier this month, the young restaurant from a famous name in New Orleans dining announced it had closed temporarily amid financial problems and issues with its lease.
But co-owner Teddy Brennan said that a “much-needed infusion of capital” has allowed him and his relatives to reopen on a better financial footing.
“The past several weeks seemed dire, but the pendulum swings,” Brennan said.
The restaurant’s attorneys are working on the lease issue, he said.
The restaurant resumed operations over the weekend with limited hours. This week the restaurant is slated to begin its normal schedule, opening Wednesday through Monday.
Brennan said the restaurant’s ownership and business structure has not changed with the new financial backing.
“What it does is gives the confidence and ability to make a fresh start, and that comes at a great time,” he said.
The Decatur Street restaurant had closed during the hard freeze in mid-January, which affected many restaurants. However, this one remained closed.
Earlier in February, Brennan and his sister Bridget Brennan Tyrell, a co-owner of the business, said the restaurant was facing a looming eviction threat and financial woes complicated by the failure of First NBC Bank. They also said their chef, Lazone Randolph, has been recovering from a serious illness over the past month. Randolph is still on the mend and is expected to return to the reopened restaurant soon.
Ted Brennan’s Decatur opened in late August at 309 Decatur St. It is named for Theodore “Ted” Brennan, who for 40 years was one of the proprietors of the landmark Brennan’s Restaurant a few blocks away on Royal Street, along with his brothers Owen E. “Pip” Brennan Jr. and Jimmy Brennan. Eventually, though, the family lost Brennan’s Restaurant through a tangle of debt and litigation.
It was later acquired by restaurateur Ralph Brennan, a cousin from a separate branch of the family, and Ralph's business partner, local investor Terry White. They massively renovated the building and opened a new Brennan’s on Royal Street in 2014.
Ted Brennan and his family soon started working on plans to open their own restaurant on Decatur Street. In 2016, however, Ted Brennan died at age 68. His children and his widow forged ahead, describing their motivation at the time as creating a tribute to his legacy.
The family leased the space from 309 Decatur Street LLC, a company held by the same family that runs Creole Cuisine Restaurant Concepts, another local hospitality company.
In explaining their closure last week, the Brennan family said their restaurant fell behind on rent only two months after opening. They said the landlord began eviction proceedings as early as October.
Plans for Ted Brennan’s Decatur were developed gradually, sometimes haltingly, over the course of three years. The family pointed to their lender’s “constant delays in funding the project.” They identified that lender as First NBC, which collapsed last spring and went into federal receivership. They said the bank’s failure complicated their efforts to get more financing to stay open.
The Brennan family is a famous name in the New Orleans hospitality business, but it is one with distinct branches. By 1973 the family suffered a rift, centered around disagreements over the future of its restaurant business. That break has proved to be long-lived, and through the years it has led to litigation between different businesses led by various relatives.
One side of the family coalesced around Commander’s Palace, and the next generation from this branch went on to develop independent hospitality companies, including the Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group and Dickie Brennan & Co. The other branch, which includes the late Ted Brennan’s family, retained the historic Brennan’s Restaurant on Royal Street until 2013.
Ted Brennan’s Decatur
309 Decatur St., 504-525-7877