A steady trickle of cars flowed past a renovated garage on Orange Street on Friday (April 24) as The Commissary chefs, staff and family passed out free meals of barbecue shrimp and grits with smothered okra through the car windows to an extended family of hospitality workers and musicians. Lower Garden District neighbors walking and bicycling past were also offered the free meals that included ice cream po-boys from New Orleans Ice Cream Co.
The restaurant group Dickie Brennan & Co. has developed the 7,000-square-foot project, which includes 6,000 square feet of commercial kitchen. The original plans were to prepare food for the group’s five restaurants – Palace Café, Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse, Bourbon House, Tableau and Acorn — to streamline operations and boost consistency for signature dishes. It would offer public access to many of the same foods the restaurants use and have an in-house eatery and a bar.
The next generation of Brennan restaurateurs are managing the project: Geordie Brower, Sarah Brennan, Richard Brennan III and Matthew Pettus.
With restaurants now shuttered to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, The Commissary’s original mission is pivoting to fit with current realities. When the space opens to the public next Thursday, “extended family meals” will be offered for pickup along with a rotating selection of the restaurant group’s signature dishes and DYI kits for home preparation.
“The Commissary has given us a wonderful opportunity to do what we do best … feed people,” Matthew Pettus said. “I can’t wait to release our to-go program next week and have the opportunity to bring more people together over some fine New Orleans cooking.”
Jim Beam and Baumer Foods, the maker of Crystal hot sauce, helped fund Friday’s community meals, with 250 passed out at the curb next to The Commissary and another 100 delivered to Touro Infirmary. More food giveaways are planned for next week. Check The Commissary website for details.
“This is our way of saying ‘thank you’ to all of those people that make our city such a special place,” Pettus said. “One of the most genuine gifts of love is that of a hot meal, and we know that it is an uplifting gesture to our extended family.”