Lease dispute leads to closing of Charlie's Seafood


Posted on April 12, 2013 at 6:27 PM

Updated Friday, Apr 12 at 6:48 PM

Maya Rodriguez / Eyewitness News
Email: | Twitter: @mrodriguezwwl

RIVER RIDGE, La.-- For the Friday lunch crowd, it's a sizzling sound food at Charlie's Seafood.

"Friday's always our busiest day here at Charlie's. Our motto is 'Every day is Good Friday at Charlie's,'" said Chef and owner Frank Brigtsen, who is also known for Brigtsen's Restaurant in New Orleans

For Brigtsen, his roots at Charlie's run deep.

"My first restaurant memory is sitting in a high chair, right here in this dining room, eating boiled crabs with my mom," he said.

Years later, the restaurant would close. After seeing the building still shuttered in 2009, Brigtsen and his wife, Marna, took a chance and reopened Charlie's.

"It's a big job, but one that I relish," he said.

Now, though, their time at Charlie's is coming to an end. They could not reach an agreement with their landlord on a new lease. Charlie's will close next Friday, April 19th.

"It came to a head last week," Brigtsen said. "They posted a notice to vacate on the front door, so we've been told to leave."

For regular customers, the news was heart-breaking.

"As my dad always says to places in the city, 'It ain't dere no more' and this will now join the ranks of places that 'Ain't dere no more,'" said customer Megan Biven.

Michael Blum lamented the closing during a lunch with friends.

"The food here, it's just world-class," Blum said. "I mean, you have an executive chef, a Frank Beard award-winner, cooking, which is unusual."

Gambit food critic Ian McNulty said the outpouring of support for Charlie's is not surprising.

"That's because people really care about these New Orleans restaurants," he said. "That's one of the things that separates our culture here in New Orleans, when you get right down to it."

It is a place of memories for so many people.

"We could take the same menu, the same people, take it to another location-- and it could be a great restaurant," Brigtsen said. "But it will never be this place."

Brigtsen said they have received several offers of other locations where they could open a seafood restaurant and are evaluating their options.