On March 16, co-owners Tia Martin and Lally Brennan had to shut down the famed New Orleans jazz brunch spot Commander’s Palace as a result of COVID-19 regulations. This would begin a series of new initiatives for the 127-year-old restaurant, including the launch of a new takeout-only concept next door, which is scheduled to debut on Sept. 11.
While perfect for the current climate, the new to-go-only spot — dubbed Le Petit Bleu — has been in the works for two years, according to Brennan, who said the concept is designed “to serve our neighbors and friends in a fun and convenient way.”
“Since COVID-19, we have loved serving our Commander’s To-Go, so as we reopen our dining rooms, we want to continue that and make way for our dining guests,” Brennan said.
The single-room space for Le Petit Bleu is decked in the familiar blue-and-white stripes of its sister restaurant.
“Our CFO wants to kill us, but we have been eyeing the front of our accounting office for Le Petit Bleu right across from the cemetery for a couple years. Poor thing, we pushed her out, but wait ‘til you see it,” said Brennan in a statement. “It’s cute as a button with floor-to-ceiling Commander’s blue stripes. We took a page from Aunt Adelaide who said, ‘aqua blue paint doesn’t cost any more than beige.’ Now you all can do what I get to do, bring Commander’s favorites home and pretend you cooked them!”
The team used the COVID shutdown downtime to develop new menu items as well. Pecan-crusted Gulf fish made with a crab-fat butter, grilled kale and melted leeks, Bone marrow grilled black Angus beef made of Tournedos of Harris Ranch tenderloin, chargrilled onions, caramelized garlic and Brabant potatoes with Bordeaux escargot demi-glace and bone marrow butter and Cafe Pierre, which is a flaming coffee drink invented by the Commander’s family.
For the dine-in reopening, Commander’s Palace has a list of new safety rules, according to its website. Measures include temperature checks before entering, and the use of UV lights around the restaurant.
Louisiana officials allowed restaurants to open in mid-May at 25% capacity and 50% in early June, but Commander’s Palace remained closed for dine-in service.
The restaurant reopened in May for takeout only. But the restaurant found other ways to make money, such as supplying dishes to local grocers and shipping menu items via Goldbelly nationwide.
In mid-August, Commander’s Palace reported it planned to lay off 240 employees, according to a Louisiana Workforce Commission filing.
In a statement to Eater, the restaurant said, “The WARN act requires us by law to inform our employees that we do not anticipate rehiring them six months after their layoff this past March. In the present situation we cannot guarantee when we will be open, therefore because of the law, we needed to communicate that to our past employees.”
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