Historic Brennan's Restaurant has closed

Restaurant workers await their final checks outside Brennan's
Restaurant workers await their final checks outside Brennan's

Some of the best food from one of the best restaurants in New Orleans is being served to the homeless Friday night after the closure of Brennan's Restaurant.

The building's new owners couldn't come to terms with former owner Owen Brennan, surprising cooks and customers alike.

It was an odd sight in the French Quarter Friday morning as employees got final checks cut for them right on Royal Street, in front of the venerable pink Brennan's facade.

And outside Brennan's, boxes of prime steak and seafood were headed in the wrong direction. Instead of food being brought in for a busy weekend, it was being taken away -- by the food bank.

"We got a call this morning asking us to pick up product, and we will make sure it goes to people in need," said Scott Bernier with Second Harvesters food bank.

Brennan's shut its doors to the public Friday morning. Customers looking for the world's most famous breakfast had to look elsewhere.

"It's just a tradition, made you feel good about coming to New Orleans," said Richard Calloway from La Grange, Texas.

The restaurant's former owner, Owen Brennan Jr., couldn't come to terms with the new owners, a partnership called 417 Royal. It was formed out of another partnership called Leggo/4, which bought the building at auction just one month ago.

Former employees were also greeted by locked doors.

"We go home now, and we wait for a phone call," said line cook Jabar Kensey.

"Major surprise, worked there two years," said dishwasher Wendell Gettridge. "The owner of the building, I don't think he want the restaurant here, that's all I heard."

The closure marks the end of a long and sad chapter involving internal squabbles within one of the world's most famous restaurant families.

Owen Brennan took over the restaurant from Ted Brennan just two weeks ago. But Owen Brennan couldn't come to new lease terms with the 417 Royal group. That group includes Ralph Brennan, who is a cousin and one of the most successful restaurateurs in the wildly successful Brennan family. The Brennans own or operate 13 restaurants in New Orleans, six others from Florida to California.

Greg Beuerman, a spokesman for the new owner, says Ralph Brennan will likely play a part in any new restaurant at the now-closed Royal Street site.

Dozens of laid-off workers are now looking for new jobs.

For now, the new owners say the future of the Brennan's site is uncertain. Complicating matters: a number of lawsuits now playing out over which branch of the Brennan's family should have control of the restaurant.

417 Royal says it's theirs. But several family members have made claims over the last couple of years, with litigation playing out in both state and federal court.