Former Brennan’s building damaged during renovations

It’s been a bumpy road lately for the former Brennan’s Restaurant, a French Quarter dining landmark at the center of a long-running feud among members of the city’s best-known restaurant family. The latest hard knock came this week when part of the historic building’s second floor collapsed.

The Brennan’s building at 417 Royal St., which traded hands last year, is under extensive renovation as restaurateur Ralph Brennan develops a new eatery there.

The construction accident occurred Tuesday afternoon when one of the columns supporting the second floor gave way, said Greg Beuerman, a spokesman for Ralph Brennan. Workers were on the site at the time but no one was injured, he said.

“There was no indication beforehand that something like this might happen,” Beuerman said. “Structural engineers are on site trying to determine what happened and why.”

Work resumed by Wednesday morning. It was not clear how the accident might affect the timeline for Ralph Brennan’s new restaurant, which has yet to be named. Ralph Brennan’s restaurant group has projected an opening in the spring, though no hard date has been set.

“The thing to remember is that we’re dealing with a very old building, one of the oldest in the city, and obviously with that come some issues,” Beuerman said.

The building dates to 1795 and was used as a residence, a bank and an events hall before first opening as Brennan’s Restaurant in 1956. In its configuration before closing last summer, the restaurant had 12 dining rooms and a large patio.

Brennan’s restaurant was evicted from the building in June, about a month after the property sold for $6.85 million in a foreclosure auction to an investment group that includes Ralph Brennan and local businessman Terry White.

Different branches of the Brennan family suffered a fractious split in the early 1970s, with one side associated with Brennan’s Restaurant and the other going on to open many other restaurants around New Orleans and in other cities through the years.

Ralph Brennan grew up in that latter side of the family and worked at Commander’s Palace and Mr. B’s Bistro before forming his own restaurant group, which now operates five properties in New Orleans, one at Disneyland and a local catering operation.