“Opportunity Fund has been key to the success of my business.”
—Brenda, Brenda's French Soul Food
Brenda's French Soul Food
Brenda had the talent and drive to open her own restaurant, but no bank would give her a loan. With two loans from Opportunity Fund, she started and then expanded one of San Francisco's most popular Southern restaurants - and then opened two more!
Finding a Space to Fit Southern-Sized Talent
Judging from the two-hour line that wraps around the block, Brenda’s French Soul Food- an 'Opportunity Funded' business - has the best French Soul Food in San Francisco! Chef-Owner Brenda Buenviaje grew up on the Westbank of New Orleans, in a little town called Harvey. As a girl, she spent time trapping crawfish in the canals behind her house, crabbing in nearby Lafitte, and picking wild blackberries. Brenda turned her taste for Southern cuisine and talents in the kitchen into a career, spending her twenties working in some of San Francisco's top kitchens.
In 2007 she decided it was time to open a place of her own. "I wanted to have my own place where I could serve casual food in a comfortable atmosphere" said Brenda.
Brenda wanted to purchase a space for her restaurant, and she needed financing to make that dream a reality. But Brenda was turned down for a loan by multiple lenders.Opportunity Fund lent her the money that she needed to open her business. Together with her wife and business partner Libby, she opened Brenda’s French Soul Food. The response to her southern cuisine has been overwhelming - her restaurant has been written about everywhere from The Wall Street Journal and Travel + Leisure to the San Francisco Chronicle and 7x7 magazine.
652 Polk St @ Eddy | San Francisco, CA 94102
644 Polk Street, between Eddy & Turk | San Francisco, CA 94102
919 Divisadero Street, between McAllister & Golden Gate |
From 2 Loans to 3 Successful Restauants
After three years in business with a steady stream of customers and just 30 seats in her cozy space, Brenda seized the opportunity to expand into the space next door when it became available in 2010. Even in the middle of the credit crunch, Opportunity Fund knew Brenda's was a business worthy of continued financing. Today, Brenda’s French Soul Food has twice the seating space as when it first opened in 2007. You can thank Opportunity Fund and our supporters for a slightly shorter wait time!
"Opportunity Fund has been key to the success of my business; they lent me the majority of the money that I needed in order to get into our original space. A few years later, when we had the opportunity to expand into the adjacent laundromat, we were able to get a second loan in order to complete the expansion," Brenda said.
Six years and many beignets later, Brenda and wife Libby opened a new café a few doors down from Brenda's called Libby Jane Café. In the fall of 2014, Brenda opened Brenda’s Meat & Three, a sister restaurant to Brenda's French Soul Food. Meat and Three dinners are a southerrn are a popular southern culinary tradition, where diners choose one meat (or entrée) and three side dishes from a daily selection of down-home favorites. All three of her restaurants are incredibly popular and worth a try.
In her spare time you can find Brenda with her lovely wife, Libby, and two children, Max and Aurora, catching a Giants game, walking along the Sausalito Pier and dreaming up new ways to take over the world one beignet at a time.