The Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group
Ralph Brennan entered the family business in the early 1980’s after a successful stint as a Certified Public Accountant with Price Waterhouse & Company. One of eight third generation cousins actively involved in the restaurant industry today, Ralph Brennan and his cousins run twelve New Orleans-style restaurants, nine of which are located in New Orleans.
Ralph Brennan is the owner and operator of Red Fish Grill and BACCO in the New Orleans French Quarter, Ralph’s on the Park in Mid-City New Orleans, and the Jazz Kitchen located in the Downtown Disney® District at the DISNEYLAND® Resort. Ralph is a co-owner of Mr. B’s Bistro, Commander’s Palace and Brennan’s of Houston.
Under Ralph’s direction, Mr. B's was recognized consistently with '4 Bean' ratings from the Times Picayune and '4 Star' ratings from Menu Magazine's Tom Fitzmorris. Mr. B's was among five nationwide nominees for the James Beard MasterCard Outstanding Service Award and was awarded Restaurants & Institutions Magazine's prestigious Ivy Award and Nation's Restaurant News' Fine Dining Hall of Fame Award.
In 1991, Ralph Brennan opened BACCO, a Creole Italian restaurant located in the French Quarter just around the block from Mr. B’s. Consistently awarded '4 bean' ratings by the Times Picayune and '4 star' ratings by Menu Magazine's Tom Fitzmorris, BACCO was selected as one of America’s 'Best New Restaurants of 1992' by John Mariani for Esquire Magazine. BACCO has been named 'New Orleans' Best Italian Restaurant' by local publications and The Zagat Restaurant Survey has noted BACCO as one of New Orleans' 'Most Popular’, Best Italian', and 'Most Romantic' restaurants.
In 1997, Ralph Brennan launched his third French Quarter eatery, Red Fish Grill, a casual New Orleans seafood restaurant located on Bourbon Street, the gateway into the historic French Quarter. Praised for its innovative local seafood menu and whimsical decor, Red Fish Grill has been named New Orleans ‘Best Seafood Restaurant’ four years in a row.
In 2001, Ralph Brennan opened the Jazz Kitchen, a New Orleans-themed food and entertainment venue which debuted in January 2001 as part of the 1.4 billion dollar DISNEYLAND® Resort development which added a new theme park, a new hotel and a new retail, dining and entertainment district to the Southern California Resort. Conceptualized as a savvy representation of New Orleans’ dual legacies - food and music – the 15,000 square foot, French Quarter-inspired venue includes a jazz club, casual fining dining restaurant and Jazz Kitchen Express to-go facility.
In December 2003, Ralph Brennan opened Ralph’s on the Park adjacent to the gateway of New Orleans’ City Park. In its first year of operation, Ralph’s on the Park was named “Best New Restaurant” by New Orleans Magazine and earned a “4 bean” rating from the Times Picayune. Ralph’s on the Park is housed in a beautifully renovated historic building dating back to 1860 that is believed to have been the first concession stand for City Park. Ralph’s on the Park is Ralph’s first New Orleans restaurant outside of the French Quarter and serves Contemporary Creole cuisine.
A food service industry advocate, Ralph Brennan served as the 1995-1996 Chairman and President of the National Restaurant Association (NRA), the largest trade group representing the foodservice industry. An NRA Director since 1984, Brennan also served the National Restaurant Association as the 2000 – 2001 Chairman of its Educational Foundation. In 1997, The International Foodservice Manufacturers Association honored Ralph Brennan with its highest honor, the prestigious Gold Plate Operator of the Year Award. In 2004, The Florida International University School of Hospitality and Tourism honored Ralph’s contributions to the foodservice industry with the Michael E. Hurst Distinguished Hospitality Leader Award. In 2005, The National Restaurant Association’s Education Foundation inducted Ralph into its College of Diplomates for his commitment to education.
A local leader and friend of business and tourism, Ralph Brennan is Past President of the Louisiana Restaurant Association and the New Orleans Restaurant Association. He was named Active Member of the Year by both organizations in 1989 and was named the Louisiana Restaurant Association's Restaurateur of the Year in 1999. In 2005, Ralph was inducted into the LRA’s Hall of Fame.
Additionally, Ralph Brennan served as Chairman of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center from 1996 – 2005, and currently serves on the Board of Commissioners as Secretary. He served on the New Orleans Aviation Board, which is entrusted with the administration and operation of Louis Armstrong International Airport, from 1996- 2006, and served as Chairman of the New Orleans Business Council. Ralph Brennan is a Past President of the New Orleans Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau and a Past Chairman of the Board of Children’s Hospital.
In May 2003, Ralph Brennan and the Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group were honored by the Educational Foundation of the National Restaurant Association with it’s national Employer of Choice Awards in recognition of Ralph’s commitment to employee satisfaction and the strength, quality and success of his human resources and training programs. In 2003, 2004, and 2005, The Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group was also named as “One of the Best Places to Work” in New Orleans by CityBusiness Magazine.
In honor of his employee friendly post-Katrina business practices and the speed at which he re-opened his three New Orleans-based restaurants, Ralph Brennan was named 2005 restaurateur of the year by Tom Fitzmorris, a leading restaurant critic in New Orleans, a frequent contributor to local and national food publications, and host of “The Food Show” on WSMB Radio.
Ralph Brennan’s family entered the hospitality business in 1947 with the purchase of the Old Absinthe Bar on Bourbon Street in the New Orleans French Quarter. The family eventually left that business to operate a small restaurant, Brennan’s Vieux Carré that eventually would become Brennan’s on Royal Street. In 1969, Ralph Brennan’s family purchased Commander’s Palace in the historic New Orleans Garden District.
In 1973, the family, stretched by running several thriving operations, left Brennan’s in the hands of the adult sons of their oldest brother Owen, then deceased, to focus all of their attention on Commander’s Palace. Built in 1883, Commander’s Palace has a long and colorful history. Under the direction of Ralph Brennan’s father’s generation and now Ralph’s own generation, Commander’s Palace ranks among the top restaurants in the world.
In 1979, the Commander’s Palace Brennans opened Mr. B’s Bistro on Royal Street in the French Quarter. The location they chose was the old Solari’s Delicatessen. Like that of its predecessors, the site for Mr. B’s was in part chosen for its historical value, and to this day, Ralph Brennan and Family pride themselves on the family tradition of appreciation and enhancement of each new location’s individual and historical significance.
Jeffrey D. Ory, ABC, APR
504.949.3999, ext. 208