Back in the day

Long before the food truck craze, food delivery apps and avocado toast mania, Libby and I opened our first restaurant in San Francisco in 2007. I named it Brenda’s French Soul Food. I missed the fun and flavors of my hometown, New Orleans, and I wanted to share that with the Bay Area. The place was tiny, in a sketchy neighborhood and an instant success.

Fast-forward more than 10 years and two more businesses, Libby and I are thrilled to finally bring our latest restaurant to the East Bay.

Brenda’s is a fast casual cafe inspired by my favorite places growing up—relaxed, lively and fun. From award-winning fried chicken to our famous cream biscuits and signature stuffed beignets, we’re serving up our most beloved dishes, as well as a few new ones.

Come on by—our krewe is excited to meet you. As we say in New Orleans, laissez les bons temps rouler!

Meet Brenda
& Her Krewe

The people who keep all our restaurants cookin’

Brenda Buenviajé >
Chef Proprietor

Libby Truesdell >
Proprietor/House Photographer

John Jackson >
Director of Culinary Operations

Jorge Hoyos >
Regional Kitchen Manager

Andrew Bloom >
Director of Operations

Michelle Rosales >
Director of Sales & Administration

Meet the Oakland Krewe

General Manager Leah Beneze
Leah has brought her sunshine and hospitality to Brenda’s after long stints managing multiple popular restaurants around the Bay Area, including California Pizza Kitchen and The Spaghetti Factory. She grew up in Sacramento but found her permanent home in “The Town” more than 12 years ago. Her deep love of good food, family and community are evident in all she does, at work and at play. When she’s not leading the krewe at Brenda’s Oakland, she’s searching out the best local foods anywhere from bodegas to flea markets, cooking with her son and husband, hiking or visiting the Oakland Zoo.

Dining Room Supervisor Michelle Ashley
Michelle has been sharing her smile and style at Brenda’s since January 2021. She was raised right here in Oakland with her twin and her brother in a big extended family and she graduated from Oakland Tech, just down the street. She delivers shining hospitality with her experience from Cornerstone Beer Garden and Market Hall Bakery, as well as patience and good nature honed as a camp counselor and teacher’s aide. When not at work, Michelle uses her boundless energy in African Dance and Zoomba. In mellower moods she enjoys painting, tarot readings, creating astrology charts and chilling to sci-fi and horror films.

Kitchen Manager Elida Castillo
Elida is originally from Guatemala, and has lived and cooked in the Bay Area for decades. Elida cooked for four years at Chaya, then at Speisekammer for two years. She was our chef John Jackson’s sous chef at Bocanova and Lake Chalet in Oakland, joining him and the Brenda’s krewe in 2018. Elida cooked in both Brenda’s San Francisco restaurants in preparation for the Oakland location to open in 2019, where she keeps the very busy kitchen running like clockwork. In her time away from work she loves chilling at home with her husband and two children.

Supervisor Maria Velasco
Maria’s nickname is Mamacita; the “little mama” to Brenda’s “big mama”. She has been by Brenda’s side for many years and is an integral member of the Brenda’s family; she’s the one everyone turns to with needs big and small. Brenda and Maria cooked together at DeLessio Market and Bakery in San Francisco, and Maria joined the team at Brenda’s French Soul Food more than a decade ago. At Brenda’s Oakland, she makes sure our dishes and packages are top notch and trains all new staff on operating procedures. Maria is from Michoacan, Mexico and has been in the Bay Area since 1984. At work, she loves both teaching and learning all aspects of the restaurant biz. When not at work, she loves traveling and spending time with her kids and grandchildren.