This summer marks the 50th anniversary of the Brennan family acquiring Commander's Palace, which would become a jewel in the restaurant family's crown. In May 1969, the family which had made a name for itself at Brennan’s on Royal Street announced its purchase of Commander’s Palace. Emile Commander founded the Garden District restaurant in 1893.
The Brennans purchased it in 1969 from Frank and Elinor Moran, who had owned Commander’s since 1944. “Our policy will be to maintain that individual character — including the same type of excellent cuisine, superior service and relaxed atmosphere which have made Commander’s a favorite with New Orleans and with visitors to our city,” said Owen E. “Pip” Brennan Jr. in the May 31, 1969 New Orleans States-Item.
According to his aunt Ella Brennan’s 2016 memoir, “Miss Ella of Commander’s Palace,” the deal officially closed on Aug. 29, 1969, her daughter Ti Adelaide Martin’s ninth birthday.
For generations of New Orleanians, “Meet me under the clock at Holmes” was a way of meeting up in the era before texts and cellphones.
Brennan added that the purchase was fortuitous since a dispute between her and the widow and children of her late brother Owen led to a family split in 1973. Ella, her siblings and children gained control of Commander’s, while Owen’s widow and children kept Brennan’s. The split uprooted Ella and her siblings but also set them on a path to even greater stardom.
Ella hired a young chef named Paul Prudhomme and the two teamed up to introduce what they called haute Creole cuisine. When Prudhomme left to open his own restaurant, K-Paul’s, his replacement was chef Emeril Lagasse. Chef Tory McPhail now runs the kitchen, and the restaurant is overseen by Martin and her cousin Lally Brennan.
Since the Suburban Gardens club was segregated, an African-American crowd gathered along the levee, hoping to hear the music through the open windows.
Pan Zareta and Black Gold loom large in Fair Grounds history as two of the most successful horses to race at the track.