Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Arienne Landry of Just for You Cafe

Arienne Landry in her domain at Just for You Cafe.
"No whining." "We reserve the right to pour coffee on your cell phone." "We have different kinds of tea. Be nice and you may choose."

At Just for You Cafe, owner Arienne Landry has been serving up the sass right along with the sausages since 1990.

And not just sausages: the menu of this breakfast and lunch hot spot includes not only the traditional breakfast and lunch offerings such as eggs, pancakes, salads and mexican dishes, but also reflects the Cajun culinary background of this Louisiana native with such offerings as a creole crab cake sandwich, grits, gumbo and the special of the house -- beignets.

But this is no greasy spoon cafe, Landry was on the slow food track long before it became trendy and her menu offers a wide selection of gluten-free options.

The interior of the cafe is as colorful as Mardi Gras beads with its color-saturated concert, movie, and advertising posters covering the walls that feature such different subjects from the Smashing Pumpkins to Clint Eastwood and TWA Airlines to the Hells Angels.

It's apparent from the efficiency and friendliness of the staff and the quality of the fare that Landry has figured out the "just for you" part of her business.

And she has also figured out how to pay it forward -- Landry expects hard work and dedication from her staff but she also supports them in their own entrepreneurial hopes and dreams.

Whether it be their own restaurant that they dream of opening or an unrelated business idea, Landry appears to not only encourage them, but also to give them the insight into what is needed to run their own businesses.

In fact, Landry is currently allowing Guido, an Italian restaurant pop-up owned by one of her servers to do business after hours in her cafe. She is even there helping sometimes -- filling water glasses, giving out silverware or just encouraging the staff.

Landry would much rather be at the stove or razzing a regular but she did agree to chat with indogpatch a bit about how she ended up serving jambalaya and waffles in Dogpatch.

Behind the custom counter she had installed.
Why do you do what you do?

I love food and I love to feed people!

I'm from Louisiana and after college I attended culinary school in New Orleans. Back then you didn't just go to school you also served an apprenticeship so by the time I was done with school I had three years of real restaurant experience. I apprenticed with the New Orleans chef, Susan Spicer, at her Savoir Faire restaurant.

After graduation I headed to California and worked at several well-known restaurants including China Moon and Perry's Restaurant. I was also chef at Late for The Train restaurant in Menlo Park.

But I'm an entrepreneur and risk taker at heart so in 1990 my business partner at the time and I bought Just For You located in Potrero Hill from the original owner who had opened in 1980. At that time we were located in a tiny spot that in New Orleans would be called a shotgun shack it was so small (current home of Chez Maman). In 2002 we moved to our current location here in Dogpatch. I missed that wooden bar counter we had in Potrero Hill so I had one made for this spot!

Why Dogpatch?

We got lucky when we found this spot even though it needed a lot of love and attention. It was a closed Chinese Restaurant and we got the space ready in only a few days. Now we had a lot more space to seat customers, a bigger work space and finally a fryer to make beignets.

Who is another fascinating person in Dogpatch?

Damian. owner of Reno's Liquor shop next door, is a real jokester -- loves to pull pranks. But I know he always has my back.

What is an interesting story that has happened to you in Dogpatch?

Well, the headquarters for the San Francisco chapter of the Hells Angels is located right down the street. Several years ago Hells Angels from around the world came to town to attend the funeral of one of its members. We were full every day. At that time I had a Harley-Davidson Sportster I used to ride. I think they felt this was their kind of place.

What would you be doing if you weren't doing this?

I would be a scientist looking for a cure for cancer!

Article Written by Patricia Kline, Photos by Scott R. Kline

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