Mayor Bill White and Alex Brennan-Martin announced today that Brennan's of Houston will reopen in October of 2009. "Many of us remember the fire that night," Mayor White told the crowd assembled in front of the restaurant's building, which was gutted by an electrical fire during Hurricane Ike. "The fire at Brennan's sent a shudder through many a spine."
The Mayor said he sees the reopening of Brennan's as a proof of how "this community will endure." Brennan-Martin said he's very excited about reviving the Houston institution. "It's nice to put the rumors to bed that it wouldn't be reopening."
Brennan's employed 125 people. Brennan-Martin said that many of his employees had been there since the beginning 42 years ago. "Most of them I hope will return," he said.
Almost everyone who wanted to has found employment elsewhere, said Brennan-Martin, but they know where to find him. "The same reservation number is still there," he quipped, "so employees know what number to call."
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Asked if Brennan's had considered leaving its historical Houston structure, which was built by architect John Staub in 1930, Brennan-Martin said, "We've certainly had opportunities to move elsewhere." They've occupied the spot since 1967, in "Midtown before Midtown was cool."
He went on to say that sometimes making a move was tempting, but he believed staying in the building and preserving it was the right thing to do - or maybe, he said, they're just "gluttons for punishment."
Asked about employee James Koonce, who along with his four-year-old daughter Katherine was injured during the fire, Brennan-Martin said that despite serious injuries, they're doing well. "But they do have a long road in front of them," he said. "We continue to try to support them."
Brennan-Martin also took the opportunity to announce his involvement with the new Citycentre development set to open on Houston's west side in July 2009. He will open two new restaurants, Café Rosé and Bistro Alex, within the new Hotel Sorella.