Main content starts here, tab to start navigating

History Highlights

shape, logo, company name


The original Brennan’s New Orleans opened in the French Quarter on Bourbon Street as Brennan’s Vieux Carre. Ten years later the restaurant relocates inside the Rillieux House, a mansion formerly built for Don José Faurie.

shape, logo, company name


While scouting properties for their restaurant expansion to Houston, the Brennan family comes across the Junior League Building—a near-identical replica to that of Brennan’s New Orleans. They knew it was fate. Brennan’s Houston opened in 1967. 

Since then, the surrounding neighborhood has been redeveloped into a sort of Houston French Quarter, with buildings following the style of the old Junior League building. When visiting Brennan’s Houston, many who remember attending Junior League dances peek into the ballroom to recall those happy times. Brennan’s values the building’s history and atmosphere that contributes to its dining experience.


Adapting to the times and following the success of Breakfast at Brennan's, Brennan’s Houston introduces the Jazz Brunch to the Bayou City, the same year it begins at Commander’s Palace in New Orleans.

1982 - Present 

José Arevalo begins working at Brennan’s of Houston as a dishwasher. He moves his way through the ranks and is now the restaurant’s esteemed Creole Chef. He earns the nickname “Save the Day José” for his lightning-fast skills on the line. Over the years he has helped train and Creolize countless cooks who have since moved on to become some of Houston’s most successful chefs.


Terms of Endearment, starring Shirley MacLaine and Jack Nicholson, films the legendary restaurant scene at Brennan’s of Houston. At the time, Brennan’s didn’t serve oysters on the half-shell and called up a fellow restaurant to arrange some on the fly. The scene inspires hundreds of reservations in the years to come for “The Terms of Endearment Room.”

1984 - Present

After growing up in his family’s New Orleans restaurants, training at La Varrene, a prestigious culinary arts and hospitality school in Paris and sharpening his skills in NYC at the Four Seasons and Maxwell’s Plum, Alex Brennan-Martin is tapped by his mother Ella to run Brennan’s of Houston. He thought the tenure would be temporary but instead falls in love with the city and raises his own family in Houston. 

The pralines arrive! In the South, there are two types of praline makers: those who make soft pralines and those who are incorrect. Alex credits his Uncle Dick as “The Keeper” of the original recipe.

1987 - Present 

In September, Carl Walker moved to Brennan’s Houston from the Brennan’s family’s Commander’s Palace, where he was sous chef under Emeril Lagasse, to assume the role of executive chef. From 1999-2003, he served as executive chef and general manager, until he tapped Randy Evans as the next executive chef. He continues his post as General Manager. The city is strangled by a serious economic downturn. Unemployment rates are almost on par with the humidity rate. Bankruptcies are common. Good restaurants close. Brennan’s weathers the challenge because they always understood that tradition matters.


The Kitchen Table arrives! A large piece of kitchen equipment near the center of the kitchen becomes obsolete and Alex Brennan-Martin and Carl Walker ponder what to do with the windfall of space. Inspired by Aunt Adelaide’s parties, when everyone ended up in the kitchen, Brennan’s becomes the first restaurant in Houston to offer front-row seats to dine in the kitchen at an old wooden farmhouse table. It’s an instant success, news spreads like wildfire and the Kitchen Table is booked months and in some cases a year or more in advance. 


The building survived several run-ins with forces of nature before Hurricane Ike, weathering several floods and a tornado that tore off the roof on November 16, 1993, exposing the Garden Room to the elements. Nevertheless, the restaurant is fully repaired and ready for a Christmas party by December 14.


Mark Holley begins his culinary career with the Brennan family as a line cook. Sensing his talent, Walker sends him to train at Commander’s Palace under Jamie Shannon before Holley returns to Brennan’s Houston as Walker’s executive sous chef in 1996. In 2000 he parted ways with Brennan’s when he was tapped as executive chef at Pesce.


Brennan’s of Houston celebrates its 30th anniversary with a new kitchen that pays tribute to that of Alex Brennan-Martin’s Aunt Adelaide, borrowing her “cherub” motif to impart the welcoming, nurturing feelings Alex felt in her New Orleans kitchen. Above the line, cherubs busily make gumbo; others cavort around the kitchen’s perimeter. 


Chris Shepherd works at Brennan’s of Houston. Chris begins his fine dining career at Brennan’s of Houston, spending seven years in the kitchen and rising to executive sous chef before moving to the dining room to serve as The Wine Guy for his final two years. He moves on to open Catalan as chef-partner.


Carl Walker’s cookbook, Brennan’s of Houston In Your Kitchen, launches, full of classic Brennan’s Houston recipes and warm memories. President George and First Lady Barbara Bush dine at Brennan’s Houston. Tropical Storm Allison blew in with such fury and suddenness on June 8, drenching the city with 29-plus inches of water and preventing diners and staff from leaving the restaurant. The restaurant provides a dozen unexpected overnight guests with white tablecloths as bedding and a sleepover commences. The cooks prepare breakfast for all the stranded guests the next morning. Randy Evans was appointed executive chef in November 2003. 

Alex Brennan-Martin was announced as Restaurateur of the Year by the Texas Restaurant Association in June 2005.


Hurricane Ike rolled through Houston, and the building caught fire, destroying the roof, burning the second floor, and causing smoke and water damage. Seventeen months later the restaurant is faithfully restored, retaining 90 percent of the original exterior.


After 16 months of repairs, Brennan’s Houston reopens on Mardi Gras, February 16. Though the interior of the building had to be gutted and refurbished, including a new roof, floors, and windows, the most iconic building elements were maintained, and some of the original design elements from the 1930s were rediscovered. The renovation received awards from the Greater Houston Preservation Alliance and the Engineering News-Record. Plucked from within the Brennan's family of restaurants, Danny Trace was tapped as executive chef to usher in a new golden age. 

After formal training, traveling, and staging at restaurants in Texas, New York, and Europe, Daniela Soto-Innes joins Brennan of Houston, working throughout the kitchen during her two-year tenure and helping Trace create tasting menus.


Preservation Houston recognizes the restaurant’s post-Hurricane Ike recovery with a special Good Brick Award. Nation’s Restaurant News inducts Brennan’s Houston into the Fine Dining Hall of Fame.

Our Team