Brenda’s Cajun Creole restaurant empire expands into San Jose

South Bay fried chicken enthusiasts, it’s time to party. No longer do you have to haul north or cross a bridge to partake of the Creole, Cajun, and French-inspired cuisine by chef Brenda Buenviaje. There is a cloud kitchen for that.

Buenviaje, a native of New Orleans who launched Brenda’s French Soul Food in San Francisco in 2007, opened Brenda’s San Jose in a detective’s kitchen on 949 Ruff Drive in San Jose. And on the menu are Buenviaje’s greatest hits for pickup and delivery: Beignets and cream cookies, po ‘boy sandwiches, fried chicken combos and Big Momma’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich, a crispy chicken sandwich with cayenne pepper fried chicken and jalapeno devil dip on a toasted bun .

Chef Brenda Buenviajé photographed the kitchen of Brenda’s Oakland when it opened in 2019. (Aric Crabb / Bay Area News Group)

In a phone interview, Buenviaje spoke about the challenges of the past year, including the struggle to keep their original restaurant on Polk Street, which has suffered most from the pandemic, to stay afloat and keep its staff busy. Brenda’s Meat and Three, which opened in 2014, and Brenda’s Oakland, which opened in 2019, are doing well.

She says a cloud kitchen with “very little effort” made sense. And she loves the atmosphere of the “cooks dormitory”.

“We thought, ‘Let’s take the food where people work from home,'” says Buenviaje. “Although we (the staff) are largely vaccinated and are looking forward to that customer interaction again, we found it a breeze.”

She was right. The response was enormous. Brendas San Jose opened on Friday and Buenviaje has already been inundated with requests for other menu favorites, such as shrimp and grits with a spicy tomato and bacon sauce and Sloppy Josephine, a vegan buttocks made from tofu. She adds both.

“The first day we went live, a nice man called in the kitchen to tell us how pleased he was that he no longer had to drive from Palo Alto to San Francisco,” says Bienviaje.

Brendas San Jose also offers a selection of breakfast rolls on butter toasted buns.

The Cloud Kitchen in San Jose is currently open Thursday through Monday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. for pickup and delivery via Caviar and DoorDash. Buenviaje says if things go well it can expand to seven days a week.

Will there one day be a Brenda brick and mortar in San Jose?

“I’m not saying no, but we’re in the process of figuring things out and getting back on our feet. It will take time,” she says.

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