Brennan’s employees complain about no contact with owners

One week after Brennan’s Restaurant was evicted from its French Quarter building, employees of the shuttered establishment said the owners have not been in touch with them and they worry they won’t be paid for their final weeks of work.

“No emails or letters have gone out. No one has contacted me,” Brennan’s waiter Bobby Ramirez said. “I just want them to know that they haven’t fulfilled their obligation to us.”

Ramirez said his last direct contact with the Brennan’s management team was last Tuesday, his final shift before the restaurant was closed.

Employees were paid June 28 and would be due another check, presumably their last, on July 12. Brennan’s employs about 100 people.

Telephone calls placed to Brennan’s owner, Clark Brennan, were not returned late Friday.

Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies booted the restaurant from its familiar pink home last week, amid a dispute between the restaurant and the property’s new owners.

Leggo/4, a group of investors that includes businessmen Harold Hunter “Terry” White III and Ralph Brennan, bought the building, at 417 Royal St., at a sheriff’s auction in Civil District Court in May. Ralph Brennan, a restaurant owner and cousin of the Brennan’s restaurant owners, previously had no role in the restaurant.

The sale meant that Brennan’s would have needed a lease agreement with the building’s new owners to continue operating at the address. But the sides couldn’t come to an agreement and the restaurant was seized June 27.

Many employees didn’t learn that the restaurant would close until they showed up to work the next day.

About 30 employees have been communicating online to weigh their options should they not receive checks next week, said Steven Swanson, a server and bartender. Swanson was one of a handful of employees who met outside the restaurant Friday evening to raise their concerns. With the restaurant closed, Swanson said he would miss out on $300 to $600 this weekend, a busy one with the Essence Festival in town.

“This is our oasis during the summer,” Ramirez said, gesturing to the crowds of tourists on Royal Street. The festival is often the bright spot in the tourism industry’s dull summer.

Brennan’s owners have not said when or where the restaurant might reopen. They are negotiating with the building’s new owners with the hope of reopening at their traditional home on Royal Street but three other sites also are being considered, Clark Brennan said.

Editor’s note: This story was updated on July 6, 2013, to reflect that businessman Harold Hunter “Terry” White is not an investor in Galatoire’s.