Eric Deljanin’s Customers Put Away a Lot of Soufflés at Capsouto Frères

Bartender Carlos Chavez, left, poses with veteran waiter Eric Deljanin, right.
Bartender Carlos Chavez, left, poses with veteran waiter Eric Deljanin, right. Photo: Melissa Hom

French bistro Capsouto Frères will celebrate its 28th anniversary on Thursday, but little has changed there since Jacques, Samuel, and Albert Capsouto opened their restaurant in a converted Tribeca warehouse. Waiters wear tuxedos, the Egyptian-born brothers fuss over diners nightly, and you’ll still have to wait fifteen or twenty minutes for your fluffy savory or sweet soufflé. We spoke to waiter Eric Deljanin, who has been with Capsouto Frères for nearly twenty years, about the restaurant’s younger clientele, the made-to-order soufflés, and his own serving longevity.

You’ve been loyal to the restaurant for almost sixteen years. How did you meet the Capsouto brothers?
I’m from Montenegro, ex-Yugoslavia. I’ve been in New York since 1990. One of my friends was working in the building and he saw the place was busy, and at that time I was without a job. He asked one of the owners if they needed a busboy. I started as a busboy, then a kitchen waiter, and I’m now a captain — manage the floor, taking the orders.

How has the clientele changed during your time there?
You can see a lot of change since September 11. A lot of people moved from the Tribeca area, changed offices. It’s more younger, families. We’re still doing okay, but not like we used to.

When was the golden age for the restaurant?
[We were] doing nice in the nineties, the beginning of 2000. We’re still doing good.

Is it frustrating that younger people dress so casually?
We have no dress code — everybody’s welcome to come in, but you have to be a little proper. In the past they would dress up more, and now it’s like they don’t care, whatever they have. Before it was more suits.

How often do you eat the trademark soufflés?
We try our special soufflés. We’re allowed to try them, but … [they’re] for the customers.

Have the soufflé recipes changed?
The recipe’s the same. We have three regular soufflés: chocolate, hazelnut, and raspberry. By season, we change. Right now we have a fig soufflé with a walnut-crème anglaise sauce, then it’s going to be pumpkin, then orange.

Ever seen anyone eat an excessive amount of soufflés?
Yeah, we see a lot of people who order a couple dessert soufflés, they have the cheese soufflés, they can’t get enough soufflé. It’s delicious.