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When it comes to restaurants in New Orleans, Ralph Brennan is part of a family that has cornered the market. Who better to turn to, then, to get the latest insights into how the Deepwater Horizon spill has impacted the Gulf Coast. He’s one of eight third generation cousins who run nine restaurants in New Orleans and three in other areas of the U.S.
Brennan’s focus is on the four restaurants that are part of the Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group: Bacco, Red Fish Grill, Ralph’s on the Park, all in New Orleans, and Jazz Kitchen, located on the grounds of Disneyland in Anaheim, California.
With the three restaurants an important part of the New Orleans economy, Brennan and his Restaurant Group employees are very much on top of the impact of first Katrina, and now the oil spill. He tells us, “Ever since this oil spill started we’ve been back in post-Katrina mode, measuring the impact of this on our business.’
He adds, ‘We have a perception problem. The world believes the coast has been damaged. We need to work very hard to change that perception.’ As a result, Brennan has been at the forefront of the recovery, meeting with Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke; with Kenneth Feinberg, the federal administrator of the Gulf Coast Claims Facility; and with Dawn Sweeney, President & CEO of the National Restaurant Association.
Meanwhile, the restaurant industry is showing its persistence and ability to thrive in spite of adversity, with reports of hundreds of new restaurants popping up along the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina. Brennan is making changes to accommodate the new normal, too, including a move of one of his restaurants, Bacco, in order to open up more private party space. “The convention business continues to struggle,” he says, “but it’s been replaced by corporate meetings and smaller groups.”
So, if you are heading to New Orleans, rest assured—the restaurants in the Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group are serving seafood. Try the menu items pictured here, like the BBQ Shrimp from Bacco, the Hickory Grilled Redfish from Red Fish Grill, or the delicate Shrimp and Crawfish Vol-au-Vents with Crawfish Cardinale Sauce from Ralph’s on the Park. So many choices, all still available and a New Orleans experience just waiting to happen.
And, if Ralph Brennan is one of the big voices of the restaurant industry in New Orleans, perhaps this quote from him is their mantra: ‘We love to eat. That’s what we do here.’