Richard Brennan (restaurateur)
Richard Joseph Brennan Sr.
Richard Joseph Brennan
November 30, 1931
|Died||March 14, 2015 (aged 83)|
New Orleans, Louisiana
|Resting place||Private interment|
|Residence||New Orleans, Louisiana|
|Alma mater||Brother Martin High School|
Tulane University Law School
Mr. B's Bistro
|Spouse(s)||Lynne Trist Brennan (married c. 1956-2015, his death)|
|Children||Lauren B. Brower|
Richard "Dickie" Brennan, Jr.
|Parent(s)||Owen Patrick Sr. and Nellie Valentine Brennan|
|Relatives||Owen Edward Brennan Sr. (brother)|
Richard Joseph Brennan Sr., known as Dick Brennan (November 30, 1931 – March 14, 2015), was an award-winning restaurateur of the Brennan Family Restaurants, based in his native New Orleans, Louisiana, USA.
Early life and education
Brennan was born in the Irish Channel neighborhood of New Orleans where he grew up with Irish mob boss Alvis "Abbie" West. He is the second youngest of six children of Owen Patrick Brennan Sr. (1886–1958), and the former Nellie Valentine. Brennan excelled in basketball at the Roman Catholic Brother Martin High School, then known as "St. Aloysius" for the Italian Jesuit Aloysius Gonzaga. The legendary coach Adolph Rupp recruited Brennan to play for the University of Kentucky Wildcats in Lexington, Kentucky. However, an illness in his family prompted Brennan to remain in New Orleans and to play instead for the Tulane Green Wave basketball team.
Following his graduation at the Tulane University Law School he joined the family business, which included two dozen outlets from California to Florida and including Texas and, particularly, New Orleans.
His popular restaurant, the Commander's Palace, earned a James Beard Award for "outstanding service" in 1993 and was cited as the "outstanding restaurant" in 1996. He originated the restaurant's jazz brunch and seemed whenever he was on duty to inspect personally every plate before it went to the customers. Each day, Brennan went over the soup offered at Commander's Palace in the Garden District: gumbo, turtle soup, and the soup of the day. No place sells as much soup as restaurants in New Orleans", he often said. In 1984, Brennan and his sister, Ella (born November 1925), co-authored The Commander's Palace New Orleans Cookbook. Brennan and his family developed new ideas for Creole cuisine. Brennan worked closely with Paul Prudhomme after Prudhomme joined the Commander's Palace staff in 1975. The two formulated dishes that became particularly popular, such as pecan-crusted Gulf fish. Brennan also worked with Prudhomme's successor as top chef at Commander's Palace, Emeril Lagasse, who subsequently built his own restaurant empire.
Dickie Brennan & Company operates more than a dozen restaurants in New Orleans alone, including in addition to the Commander's Palace, Dickie Brennan's Bourbon House Seafood, Dickie Brennan's Steakhouse, Mr. B's Bistro, the Palace Café, and Dickie Brennan's Tableau. He took over the Friendship House restaurant in Biloxi, Mississippi. Another branch of the family continued to operate the original Brennan's on Royal Street in New Orleans. With a nephew nearly his own age, Owen Edward "Pip" Brennan, Jr. (born July 1934), Brennan revived in 1969 the Mardi Gras Krewe of Bacchus to attract tourists. Brennan was involved in the formation of the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau and was a past president of the Louisiana Restaurant Association. He also sat on the board of the National Restaurant Association.
At Tulane, Brennan met his wife, the former Lynne Trist (born September 1934). There are two Brennan children, Lauren B. Brower (born January 1959) and husband, George, and Richard Brennan, Jr. (born June 1960). Both work in the family restaurants. He was survived by two sisters, Ella and Dorothy Brennan, and six grandchildren. His parents, brothers Owen Edward Brennan Sr. (1910-1955), and John, and sister Adelaide Brennan (1915-1983), predeceased him.
Richard "Dickie" Brennan, Jr., described his father as "kind, gentle, and giving. He was a mentor, visionary, leader and statesman. He loved his family, friends, staff, city, state and country. His motto was 'Leave it better than you found it.' He was the ultimate New Orleanian and a true Irishman! ... Chef-owner Frank H. Brigtsen, Jr. (born December 1954), agreed, "His mark is felt throughout the city of New Orleans, a testament to a life well lived."
Brennan passed away on March 14, 2015 in New Orleans. A funeral mass was held on March 20; interment was private.
- David Lee Simmons; Todd A. Price (March 15, 2015). "Dick Brennan Sr., New Orleans restaurateur, has died at age 83". New Orleans Times-Picayune. Retrieved March 21, 2015.
- Ian McNulty (March 17, 2015). "Restaurateur helped usher in new era for Creole cuisine and made a mark across New Orleans culture". The Baton Rouge Advocate. Retrieved March 21, 2015.
- "Richard J. "Dick" Brennan Sr". New Orleans Times-Picayune. Retrieved March 21, 2015.