The Charlie's Family
Charlie Petrossi and his family ran the neighborhood restaurant for three generations. Their sizzling steaks and unique style of service helped Charlie's become one of New Orleans' favorite traditions. There's nothing fancy at Charlie's, just a great steak, a cold drink, and a good time. You don't ask for a menu at Charlie's unless it's your first time, and that's when everybody laughs at you.
There is no menu. Just tell your waiter which steak you want and how you would like it cooked. Oh, and when it arrives, hold your napkin up in front of you so the spattering butter doesn't ruin your shirt.
Service at Charlie's has always been a bit unique. Most of the time your waiter told you what you were having, not the other way around. This worked out well since there was no menu. Inexperienced diners have often been left with a " what just happened ? " look on their face after ordering. Sometimes a regular customer's food would show up before they even knew they had ordered. There was lots of humor, mostly deadpan and dry wit, one-liners bouncing back and forth with some sarcasm and a short quip, and the frequent practical joke.
The Charlie's Family
Charlie Sr.’s daughter, Dottye Bennett, was a fixture at Charlie’s for years. Miss Dottye started working at Charlie's in 1952. Miss Dottye knew every customer who came to Charlie’s – she called both old and new customers “sweetie.” Regulars visited Charlie’s just as often to see Miss Dottye as they did to enjoy the steaks.
Charlie Sr.’s son and Miss Dottye’s brother, Sonny, took the reins from Charlie Sr. in 1975 and ran the house until 2003. Miss Ellen, Sonny’s wife, with the help of Miss Dottye, then took over and kept Charlie’s going until New Orleans was brought to its knees on August 29, 2005.
For three long years after Hurricane Katrina, Charlie’s remained closed. As restaurants continued to re-open in the following months and years, a common refrain around town was, “When is Charlie’s coming back?” One of New Orleans’s local food critics infamously noted that: “THE RESTAURANT MOST PEOPLE ASKED ME ABOUT THAN ANY OTHER, OF ALL PLACES, WAS CHARLIE’S STEAK HOUSE.”
One young man was determined that Charlie’s traditions would live on. Matthew Dwyer had lived Uptown nearly Charlie’s for 15 years. Over the years, Matthew had frequently worked as an “unofficial” bartender. When things got really busy at Charlie’s, someone would run down the block and knock on Matthew’s door to ask him to help mix drinks. Matthew had a great time, and like everyone else, quickly fell in love with the place.
Miss Ellen tried but was ultimately unable to re-open Charlie’s after Katrina. However, she was reluctant to sell the landmark business that had been a part of her family for so many years. In Matthew, she found the perfect solution to continue the tradition of Charlie’s.
Matthew, and his father Gene, purchased Charlie’s in 2007. With the help of long-time manager, Glenn Bove, and many others, Matthew began the process of re-opening. In 2008, Charlie’s re-opened its doors, and the steaks sizzled again. New Orleans rejoiced!
Matthew preserved and carried on the tradition of Charlie’s to the delight of long-time customers, old customers who “found” Charlie’s again, and newcomers who, like everyone else, made it their own. Under Matthew’s watch, Charlie’s tradition continued for 12 more years. And then... came 2020.
Charlie’s, like everything and everyone else in the world, came to a standstill in March of 2020. Just when things were about to open again in the summer of 2020, the unthinkable happened – Matthew Dwyer passed away at the age of 49. Charlie’s remained closed, but the Dwyer family kept Charlie’s lights on. Like the Petrossi family before them, Matthew’s father, Gene Dwyer, and his brother, Ryan “Owl” Dwyer, were determined that tragedy would not end the tradition of Charlie’s.
In late 2020, Owl and Heady Dwyer joined a group of friends, including Kim and Chef Aaron Burgau, Sadie and Brian Stewart, and Jamie and John Cangelosi, to purchase Charlie’s. On January 5, 2021, Charlie’s re-opened its doors. The tradition continues...
The Charlie’s experience
The sizzling steaks and unique style of “service” have turned Charlie’s into a New Orleans landmark. There has never been a menu at Charlie’s, and they're probably never will be. It’s not a fancy place; it doesn’t have the frills of your typical steak house. Charlie’s is a neighborhood gem that is all about a delicious steak, great sides, and a cold drink shared with good friends and family.
Please come visit soon and help us continue the tradition of Charlie's.