From their earliest days in the restaurant business, my Aunt Ella worked Saturday nights, and my Dad, Dick Brennan, worked the Sunday breakfast shift. So, when Dad and Aunt Ella left Brennan’s Restaurant to open Commander’s Palace, they kept their same schedules. Now, at this point, Breakfast at Brennan’s was already a New Orleans’ dining tradition. On a trip to London, my Dad was sitting in a restaurant (I kick myself that I can’t recall where!), listening to some music and the idea came to him to create a new tradition to fill the seats in his new restaurant at breakfast time. Dad thought about what people love most about New Orleans – great food and great jazz. In 1974, he married the two with the creation of Jazz Brunch.
To get the word out, my sister, Lauren Brennan Brower (who’s now my business partner in our French Quarter restaurants, Palace Café, Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse, Bourbon House and Tableau), my cousins and I rode the streetcar down to the French Quarter to hand out fliers advertising our new Jazz Brunch. The chefs came up with some wonderful new brunch dishes, and we asked Alvin Acorn and his jazz trio to play. That first Sunday we tripled our business, and it just continued to grow from there. Even after he retired from Commander’ Palace, he made regular trips to Palace Café with his grandchildren for Jazz Brunch.
I can’t count how many jazz trios have played Jazz Brunch at our restaurants, but I recognize a lot of familiar faces walking through the French Quarter on my way to the restaurants. We’ve made a lot of good friends over the years, and we’re always looking to make some new ones.
I’m really proud that the Jazz Brunch tradition my father started continues at Palace Café and restaurants all around the country. This weekend custom is great for everyone. Jazz Brunch gives a lot of really talented local jazz musicians some good exposure and an opportunity to perform. Plus, our Creole Bloody Mary’s, Bourbon Milk Punch, Café Eggs Benedict, Pork Grillades and Grits, and Pain Perdu give something to wake up for after a night out in New Orleans!