Many Tulane students develop a restaurant routine: Saturday night dinner at PIZZA Domenica, Sunday morning brunch at Willa Jean, maybe a lunch at Shaya thrown in there every once in a while . Believe it or not, there's a link that ties a lot of our favorite NOLA dining staples together– and that link is the Besh Restaurant Group.

Photo courtesy of Gabrielle Geiselman

The Start of Something Good

John Besh, the founder and owner of Besh Restaurant Group (BRG), is a world renowned chef from southern Louisiana who has won multiple James Beard Awards. Aside from his restaurants, Besh has incredible cookbooks and television shows, like My New Orleans: The Cookbook and the show Chef John Besh’s New Orleans.

Besh started BRG in 2005 with his long time friend Octavio Mantilla. The group currently owns and operates 17 restaurants, many of which have won and been nominated for various awards.

tomato, sauce, soup, vegetable
Photo courtesy of Randy Schmidt

“We try to provide an amazing customer experience where people come in to have a great time," Mantilla said. "We try to be very true to who we are and don't compromise the simple thing of what we do, which is serving people from the heart and doing it from the heart.”

Besh and Mantilla first met working at a restaurant while Mantilla was a student at Tulane University. Mantilla went on to open various fine dining restaurants nationwide at Harrah's Hotel and Casinos nationwide.

ham, prosciutto, bacon, meat, cheese
Sarah Yanofsky

Besh and Mantilla were brought back together when Harrah's Hotel and Casino assigned Mantilla to open Besh Steak at Harrah’s in New Orleans. While working on Besh Steak, the pair was given the opportunity to purchase Restaurant August, a restaurant where Besh served as a chef. With the purchase of August, BRG was formed.

“[Besh] is a very giving person and a very talented chef. I think he is a visionary too,” Mantilla said. “He loves New Orleans and the community and he believes in people” Mantilla said.

The Key to Success

meat, vegetable
Photo courtesy of Randy Schmidt

Many BRG restaurants and chefs have received numerous awards. Most recently, Chef and Owner of Willa Jean Kelly Fields was nominated for the 2017 Outstanding Pastry Chef. BRG has also been praised for for their outstanding restaurants in Esquire, Bon Appetite  Food & Wine Magazine, and more.

According to Mantilla, one reason for their success is that BRG supports many members of their teams who have big dreams by making them part owner– something quite special in the restaurant business. 

Where the Future Will Lead BRG

Photo courtesy of Randy Schmidt

As of 2016, BRG added a hotel food and beverage operation division to their group called Our House Hospitality. The group's most recent work includes the food and beverage operations that they've added to the Pontchartrain Hotel in New Orleans and Thompson Nashville Hotel.

BRG is currently working on opening up the brasserie Eunice in Houston, which is slated to open in the fall of 2017. The food is said to be inspired by Chef Drake Leonard's childhood in South Louisiana, bringing to the table rustic, homey flavors with modern preparations.

Gillian Bayer

From its past successes to its future endeavors, the Besh Group is founded on people. According to Mantilla, they serve from the heart and are rooted in Integrity– and it's this recipe for success that will continue the Besh Group on their journey of serving the NOLA eater one Willa Jean biscuit at a time.