Meet Your Good Neighbor Front Porch Series: Louisianne’s Etc.
In her heart, Gwen Bryan was not sure the business would even work.
What were the odds? Bryan was a 22-year-old college student and restaurant worker back in 1992 when she decided to open a restaurant with her friend John Hosking. They both had experience, but neither had owned a restaurant before.
The two young business partners found some affordable space in Middleton and opened what would become Louisianne’s Etc.
“We found this place, it was so cheap — we thought, ‘why not,'” Bryan said. “But I thought that after maybe three, three and a half years, we would be done.”
Bryan’s customers proved her wrong. The restaurant has drawn a large and loyal following with wonderful food and a cozy atmosphere that makes customers feel like they are dining in the heart of New Orleans.
The restaurant serves a range of Cajun and Creole dishes, including standards like etouffee and jambalaya. The restaurant proudly stands by its dishes and sees its menu consistency as a strength — Chef Kevin Ostrand has been with the restaurant since the start.
“We just keep doing the same thing,” Bryan said. “What happens to a lot of places is they try to keep up with the times and change their concept to try to follow what’s popular. That can be a downfall. If you are busy, and people are coming to your establishment because they like what you’re doing, why change it?”
Bryan’s husband Erik Christensen co-owns the restaurant and has been part of the business since nearly the beginning — he stepped in to fill in for a bartender in 1993 and never left.
Christensen and Bryan both say their staff is like a family and one of the restaurant’s biggest strengths.
“Working with them is so fulfilling,” Christensen said. “They are just wonderful.”
The restaurant has seen a lot of changes over the years, as the city has grown and evolved. Today, Middleton’s downtown is vibrant and revitalized with many businesses, restaurants and the new Middleton Center just down the block.
“There’s now a constant stream of people walking by,” Bryan said.
The restaurant has space for gatherings and has been the site of many special celebrations, including engagements, birthday parties and weddings.
“We have also had memorial services and wakes, we’ve seen the whole cycle of life for our customers … it’s amazing,” Christensen said.
While Bryan did not initially imagine that she would spend the next three decades with the restaurant, after 10 or 15 years it was clear that this was not a passing enterprise.
“That’s one thing that’s driven us to get through the pandemic,” she said. “I don’t want to switch lanes now. This is what we know, this is what we love.”
7464 Hubbard Ave, Middleton, WI 53562
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 5 p.m.–9 p.m.
(carry-out orders accepted at 4 p.m.)