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Brennan's Family Feud Unsettled in Wake of Eviction

The family feud that flambéed with Friday's shuttering of Brennan's Restaurant isn't over just because the Royal Street eatery isn't serving its famed breakfast on Saturday morning. In fact, the eviction papers have only shined public light on another family member who recently entered the fold. Ralph Brennan, a cousin of the family who owned the famed restaurant and maintains his own independent restaurant business, is a key player in the company that took control of Brennan's at a sheriff's sale auction in May.


That means Ralph Brennan, who owns New Orleans eateries such as Ralph's on the Park, Mr. B's Bistro and Redfish Grill, essentially evicted his own family members -- Owen "Pip" Brennan and his sons Clarke and Blake --- from the restaurant on Friday. The restaurant was sold at sheriff's sale on May 23 to LEGGO 4 LLC. Ralph Brennan is a partner in LEGGO 4, along with local businessman Hunter White.


Employees showed up at the restaurant, located at 415 Royal St., on Friday morning to find the doors locked, and collected their last checks. An employee told NoDef a sheriff's office official came to the restaurant and locked the doors at 4 p.m. Thursday. According to court documents filed by Owen "Pip" Brennan, LEGGO issued an eviction notice to Brennan's nearly 10 days earlier, on June 19.


That inserts Ralph Brennan into an ongoing battle between his cousins Ted Brennan, who ran Brennan's Restaurant in the immediate wake of the Federal Flood with his daughter Bridget Brennan Tyrell, and Owen "Pip" Brennan, who took control of the restaurant just before the Sheriff's sale auction.


In the run-up to the sheriff's sale, Owen "Pip" Brennan had been attempting to oust his brother Ted from control of the business. The feud culminated in a dramatic scene at the restaurant on April 26. Police had to be called in after Pip Brennan held a shareholder's meeting during which he said he was voted into control of the company. However, a judge later nixed that power grab, leaving Ted Brennan at the helm. After the sheriff's sale, however, Owen "Pip" Brennan was able to get control of the company.


In a lawsuit filed in federal court on June 19, Pip Brennan -- who was owed $2 million by Brennan's since selling his shares in 2010 -- accuses Ted Brennan of not doing enough to stop the foreclosure. Pip Brennan filed for a temporary injunction to stop the sale from going forward. A judge granted the injunction, but said Brennan's would need to post a $150,000 bond to stop the sale. Ted and Bridget Brennan didn't post the bond, the lawsuit states.


Pip Brennan's lawsuit further states that Ted and Bridget Brennan were in talks with Ralph Brennan and LEGGO prior to the foreclosure. Given Ralph Brennan's position as a restauranteur, it's possible to see this as a move designed to save the family business. However, Pip Brennan paints the talks in a negative light.


"On the day of the foreclosure, Bridget Tyrell made a call to a member of Pip Brennan's family chastising them for attempting to stop the foreclosure proceeding," the lawsuit states. "Bridget Tyrell announced it was the plan of Ted Brennan, Bridget Tyrell and third parties to allow the foreclosure proceedings to go through."


The lawsuit also states no lawyer for Brennan's was present at the sheriff's sale.


As a result, the lawsuit states, Ted and Bridget Brennan directly contributed to the inability of the family business to pay off its debts. As a result, Pip Brennan said he is entitled to the return of money equal to the value of the restaurant, or the building itself. The lawsuit remains pending in federal court.


Even with a Brennan remaining in the ownership role, the restaurant's future remains unclear. A lawyer for White at Brennan's Restaurant and a spokeswoman for Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group declined comment Friday.


Stephen Babcock contributed reporting.

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