Culinary Landmark Brennan’s Reopening In New Orleans Tuesday

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Sumptuous courtyard breakfasts and flaming Bananas Foster are returning to the restaurant in New Orleans' French Quarter that made them famous.

         Brennan's Restaurant re-opens Tuesday. It has been closed since June of 2013 amid legal battles among members of the family of its late founder, Owen Brennan.

         Ralph Brennan, a nephew of Owen who practically grew up in the restaurant, eventually acquired the familiar pink stucco 18th century building. He and a business partner eventually were allowed to keep its original name, easing fears that a culinary landmark had died.

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         The building has been remodeled and a new chef will create new dishes. But Brennan promises that old favorites, including eggs Hussarde and the flaming banana concoction that was invented at Brennan's will return.

         Tuesday's opening marks the end of a long, emotional road for Brennan, who remembers doing homework in one of the upstairs rooms, rushing out onto the balcony to catch beads from passing Mardi Gras parades and sharing the booty with customers.

         He rarely visited after disagreements among Owen's kin led to an infamous schism in the 1970s, while he was in college. The large family broke into two camps. Ralph became part of the branch that is commonly known as the Commander's Palace side, for the turquoise-painted Victorian behemoth in the Uptown neighborhood that became world famous under Owen's sister Ella and other siblings.

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         Owen's widow and sons stayed with the original Brennan's, which had opened on Bourbon Street in 1946 and moved to the current landmark building in 1955.

         Both sides flourished for years, but Brennan's fell on hard times amid more family divisions and litigation.

         Ralph, who with his business partner and family members has a role in several successful New Orleans restaurants, was able to get the building in foreclosure last year. He intended to open a new restaurant there, but was unsure until months later whether he would be legally able to use the Brennan's name.

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         "I just think it's very special because the name and the building go together," Brennan said in an interview a few days ahead of the opening.

         The building has been remodeled. The decor is different. Brennan stressed that this is a new Brennan's in many ways, with a new chef who will introduce new dishes.

         But the courtyard where Breakfast at Brennan's became famous is still there.

         "We'll have some of the old favorites like eggs Benedict and eggs Hussarde and eggs Sardou," Brennan added.

         Banana's Foster, born at the restaurant in the 1950s as a means of capitalizing on New Orleans' fame as a banana importer, will be back, too.

         And Brennan is not averse to adding a bit more old to the new if need be.

         "If we miss a dish that people are asking for," he said, "we can change the menu and put it on."

         – by AP Reporter Kevin McGill

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