Spotlight: Chef Brenda Buenviaje - Celebrating pride, love and equality

Posted on Jun 17, 2014 by Alma Elizondo-Bailey

Brenda Buenviaje and family

June is Pride month! To celebrate, we are thrilled to focus this issue of our Spotlight newsletter on a few of the LBGT-owned businesses in our portfolio. Opportunity Fund has a long and proud history supporting the LGBT community - as clients, employees, donors and supporters - and it is an honor and privilege to celebrate LGBT-owned businesses, like Brenda's French Soul Food.

Brenda's French Soul Food Restaurant | San Francisco

Outside of Brenda'sJudging 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. Together with her wife and business partner Libby, she opened Brenda's. 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.


"I wanted to have my own place where I could serve casual food in a comfortable atmosphere" said Brenda Buenviaje.

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. 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." 
Now, six years after it all started over beignets, Brenda and wife Libby just opened a new café a few doors down from Brenda's called Libby Jane Café.

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.

BeignetsSignature Dishes
Crawfish beignets, of course. Or chocolate. Or go for the flight of four, each the size of a fist. But leave room for fried chicken, too. Shrimp and grits, a cheesy croque monsieur, and gumbo are great finds. Check the chalkboard specials daily, and try the eggs benedict served on weekends.

652 Polk St @ Eddy | San Francisco, CA 94102| 415.345.8100

Congratulations, Brenda and Libby. We love you!


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