by Ian McNulty
Charlie's Seafood (8311 Jefferson Hwy., 737-3700) reopened for business today. The casual seafood restaurant had been a neighborhood institution in Harahan for more than half a century, though it had been shuttered lately.
As before, the menu features boiled seafood, fried seafood plates and po-boys. The same old sign is in place, reading "Charles Sea Foods" although the restaurant's true name is Charlie's Seafood.
What's new are the owners. Chef Frank Brigtsen and his wife Marna, owners of the upscale contemporary Creole restaurant Brigten's, signed a lease on the property in May and began fixing up the old place.
It marks the first new restaurant venture for the Brigtsens since opening their Riverbend restaurant in 1988, and it's one with special significance for their family.
"I grew up out here in River Ridge," Frank Brigtsen said earlier. "Charlie's opened in 1951, my family moved out here in 1955 when I was one, so this might be the first restaurant I ever ate in, probably in a highchair."
While he says he wasn't actively seeking a second restaurant, driving past the idled Charlie's twice a day on his commute began pulling on his heartstrings.
"I think it makes sense for us not only for nostalgic connection to it, but also because of my passion for Louisiana seafood. The New Orleans neighborhood restaurant is a very precious thing, and we want to resurrect what was a legend in this neighborhood," said Brigtsen.
Plenty of regulars from Charlie's past were in today during lunch (pictured below) to check the place out. Charlie's is open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday.