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Event: 'Recent Acquisitions: Bruning's Bar'

City Wide Events
Events Happening in New Orleans
Date: Friday, March 13, 2009 At 08:00 AM
Duration: 1 Day
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Location: http://www.southernfood.org

The historic bar from Bruning’s Restaurant, which managed to survive the devastation of both Hurricanes Georges and Katrina, has found a new home at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum.

The bar, which spent time in the waters of Lake Pontchartrain following Hurricane Katrina, has been damaged but not severely. It is the intent of the museum to restore the bar and display it as a shrine to local culinary culture.

The 16-foot bar was constructed of numerous types of wood and has faux marble colonettes. It also features numerous mirrors though the original large mirror was lost in the hurricane and its aftermath.

The bar was created between 1859 and 1871 by Brunswick Manufacturing, the Chicago-based company that today makes pool tables and bowling balls. The bar has been photographed for numerous publications including Obituary Cocktail by Kerri McCaffety.

“The Bruning family has made it possible for SoFAB to have the wonderful bar that once graced the third oldest restaurant in New Orleans,” says Liz Williams, president of the museum. “We are currently researching the bar, its construction and how to get it back to its original state. We intend to re-assemble the bar and display it.

Bruning’s was the third oldest restaurant in New Orleans; only Antoine’s and Tujagues predated it. The Bruning's legacy began in the 1840s, when Theodor Bruning emigrated from Germany to New Orleans and opened his first restaurant on Claiborne Avenue in what was then the town of Carrollton.

In 1859, Bruning moved to the resort area on Lake Pontchartrain, and started the restaurant that bore his name. In 1886, Bruning’s moved to the location where it remained until Hurricane Georges badly damaged it in 1998. The entire restaurant, which was built over Lake Pontchartrain on wooden pilings was destroyed, except for the bar and the original bar mirror.

The family was devastated by the loss of the restaurant but they had a backup plan. Because they knew about the flooding dangers in the area, the family had purchased a building on land in 1947 that was adjacent to the former restaurant.

After Hurricane Georges demolished the original building, they moved next door. Within two months of the devastation of Hurricane Georges, Bruning's was once again open for business.
After moving to the on-land building next door, Bruning’s served seafood, and was known for its raw oysters, stuffed flounder, and soft shelled crab. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina destroyed the entire area including restaurants that had been there for generations. Bruning’s was completely destroyed and this time the bar did not go unscathed, but it was salvaged and placed into storage until this donation.

“We intend to set up a fund to collect the money needed to restore the bar as it was. The bar is in decent shape, but it needs attention and care,” says Williams “The main portion of the bar is in several pieces, but we have all of the pieces, except for the large mirror.”

Interested parties can make donations online at www.southernfood.org.