Austin's Restaurant (5101 W. Esplanade Ave., Metairie, 888-5533; www.austinsno.com) owner Ed McIntyre is a skilled multitasker, juggling food deliveries, a Gambit interview and phone calls regarding his four restaurants with calm dexterity. It comes to him naturally: McIntyre has 40 years of experience in the often frenetic world of food service, starting when he bussed tables at his parents' restaurant at the age of 6.
"I was pretty much born and raised in the restaurant business," McIntyre says. "My parents owned a smokehouse barbecue restaurant on Canal Boulevard. The bus used to drop me off there."
After the success of his three Mr. Ed's locations, McIntyre opened Austin's Restaurant and brought the fine dining experience to Metairie. "They didn't have many upscale restaurants in Metairie, and we did the white tablecloths from day one."
Austin's Restaurant earned Gambit's Readers' Choice award for Best New Restaurant when it opened in 2003. With a dinner menu that features frog's legs, oysters and redfish, McIntyre does his part to support local seafood purveyors. Turtle soup, simmered with fresh lemon juice and dry sherry, is a favorite among customers, and lately steaks have received greater emphasis on the menu.
"From filet to New York strip to bone-in ribeye, we have plenty of steaks," McIntyre says.
Overseeing four restaurants might be taxing to some, but McIntyre says he hopes to add a fifth in the French Quarter location in the near future.
"It's fun when you're busy, you know?" McIntyre says. "This is all I've done. I love it."