Commander’s Palace has sat docked in the Garden District since 1893. And since the Brennan family purchased the property in 1969, it has collected six James Beard Awards, including Outstanding Restaurant (1996), Outstanding Service (1993), and a Lifetime Achievement Award for Ella Brennan, the 91-year-old luminary who still lives next door. That same night, in a scene so New Orleans the memory drips Southern charm, Ti Martin stopped by and shared an Old-Fashioned with her mother before heading home.
The previous day, she made a stop to grab a thread and needle to help a waiter whose pants split during a shift. When Ella, Dottie, Dick, and John Brennan took over supervision of the restaurant in 1974, they injected these family-first values into the operation.
“When I look at restaurants that have really thrived long term or done really well, it always seems to be a partnership or a team,” Ti Martin says. “Places that are really all about one person don’t seem to last that long. We’ve been blessed to be a family business.”
Anybody who works with family will tell you, though, that it’s not all Christmas presents and charades. Yet it works here, and it has for decades. Lally Brennan, Ti Martin’s first cousin, is the co-proprietor, and one of her closest allies.