NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Brigtsen’s is an establishment in a city filled with storied restaurants. James Beard Award winning Chef Frank Brigtsen has created a dining experience so synonymous with New Orleans cuisine the Riverbend restaurant has become a staple for special occasions or that one meal that will always hold a special place in your culinary memories.
That’s just one of the reasons the restaurant is named a finalist for Outstanding Service by the James Beard Foundation.
Frank Brigtsen will be the first to tell you, though, all of that is only possible thanks to his family and staff that work tirelessly to provide an unmatched experience for every guest that walks through the door.
“The real leadership in the front of the house at Brigtsen's is my wife and her two sisters,” Brigtsen said. “I'm the luckiest guy in the world because I married three sisters!”
Brigtsen and his wife Marna opened the restaurant in 1986.
Brigtsen knows his food speaks for itself, but when it comes to the guests, his sister-in-law and general manager, Rhonda Madach, does the talking.
“There's just something about how we grew up and where we were raised. You want to be nice to everybody, there's nobody that walks in the door that we don't bend over backwards for and make sure everything is very pleasant. We know the food is gonna be great, but then everything else has to go with it,” Madach said.
It all starts on the phone, where Madach confidently takes reservations by hand, squeezing in an extra party at the last minute with ease.
“We want to do what a restaurant is supposed to do, which is give people a couple of hours of joy to celebrate what's good in life with their family and friends,” Brigtsen said.
Brigtsen’s achieves that few hours of joy by employing a team effort in the dining room. Servers aren’t relegated to sections, instead, working together, they take care of every table in need.
“I think that gives us an edge, because nobody sits there and waits for a glass of wine, nobody waits for water, nobody waits to have their wine poured, we just do it all,” Madach said.
It’s one reason why so many people keep coming back to Brigtsen’s, not just for the food, but the atmosphere that may just make everything taste that much better.
“It's just nice to come to work every day. We have great customers; we have a great relationship with so many locals that it's unbelievable. I mean they come for their birthdays, for their anniversaries, for graduation,” Madach said.
It’s a level of service that eases you into a meal from one of the city’s finest chefs and at the same time, makes it easy to forget you’re at a restaurant at all.
“Our guests over the years have said that it’s like dining in someone’s home. I love to hear that! Because that’s what we’re all about. This is our home, this is our happy place, we’ve been here 33 years and Marna and I have never been happy than we are today. And it’s because of the people, the people we work with, the people that dine with us, the people that supply us,” Brigtsen said.