What began as a relatively modest restaurant on Bourbon Street sparked a family dynasty of restaurants and a battle over the Brennan family name.
Owen Brennan opened “Brennan’s Vieux Carre” restaurant in 1946 and 10 years later moved to 417 Royal Street, where Brennan’s became a popular spot for locals and celebrities. The restaurant served Creole and French classics, like turtle soup, and invented new ones, like Bananas Foster.
A young Ella Brennan worked in the restaurant, as did brothers and sisters including Richard, Owen Jr., Adelaide and John. In the 1970s, some of the siblings, led by Ella, took over Commander’s Palace and turned it also into a stalwart of the local restaurant scene, with chefs including Emeril Lagasse and Paul Prudhomme.
Both the Royal Street Brennans and the Commander’s Brennans expanded, with more than a dozen restaurants, including Mr. B’s Bistro, Bacco, Red Fish Grill, Ralph’s on the Park and Sobou.
In mid 1970s a rift in the family caused it to formally split. In 2002, the family went to battle over the use of the family name on Dickie Brennan’s eponymous steakhouse.
Members of the family battled again over the legacy of Brennan’s Restaurant on Royal Street when the restaurant was foreclosed upon and bought from under Ted Brennan by cousin Ralph Brennan in a tax sale.