Saturday, September 13, 2008

Early restaurant news out of Texas is far from good

Hurricane Ike's damage to Texas' restaurant industry is starting to be assessed, but it remains unclear whether the storm caused or merely contributed to the demise of a dining landmark. Brennan’s, a longtime favorite of Houston, was “left in ashes” by a fire that erupted about the time the storm was making landfall, according to a report in the Houston Chronicle. The report noted that it was still undetermined as of Saturday afternoon if Ike caused the blaze. It appears certain, however, that the hurricane fanned the flames and kept firemen away.

It seems as if Mother Nature was extracting revenge on the landmark for earlier defying its wrath. After Hurricane Katrina destroyed much of New Orleans, many staffers of that city’s Commander’s Palace were taken in by Brennan’s. Both landmarks are run by the Brennan family, one of the nation’s foremost restaurant clan.

The Chronicle story noted that co-proprietor Alex Brennan-Martin couldn't speak when he learned of the fire because he was apparently too broken up.

As with Hurricane Gustav, last night’s storm dominated the airwaves. Yet mentions of southern Texas restaurants were rare, as opposed to the detailed reports about how New Orleans dining cathedrals were faring when Gustav hit. The contrast underscores how important eateries are to the Big Easy economy. Most of the economy-related TV and internet reports on Ike focused on the local oil trade.

But a reporter stationed in Galveston by a Houston ABC affiliate noted that a popular beachside restaurant “was literally gone.” I thought he said it was The Stockade, but I couldn’t find a listing for that. A scan of all the eating places listed in local tourist guides mentioned only who’s name sounded similar, the Spot, though I haven’t been able to confirm that through other means.

Meanwhile, another report noted that the Kemah Boardwalk, a tourist facility run by Landry’s Restaurants, couldn’t even be reached on foot or by car. Among the restaurants located on the waterside attraction is one of Landry’s newest concepts, Red Sushi Habachi Grill, a slight variation on the Red sushi restaurant in Las Vegas’ Golden Nugget casino.

Though the news on restaurants affected by the hurricane hasn’t been abundant—and blogs offered less information than they did during Gustav—the situation has to be deplorable. Power companies are saying that power won’t be restored in some areas for three weeks to a month. Many areas are advising residents to stay away if they can, and a lengthy list of towns and cities are imposing curfews to avert looting and lawlessness.

If you’re reading this and know what’s happening with the restaurant industry in southern Texas, please share the info.

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