Thomas & Michael Brennan
6525 Ventnor Avenue
Ventnor, NJ 08406
As food critics have already pointed out, when you combine a father with thirty-plus years of experience in the hospitality industry with an award winning chef for a son, the result is Cardinal Bistro in Ventnor, “a promising new BYOB from a young talent that Shore goers are going to love.”
Thomas Brennan started his career as a busboy in Smithville. After earning his bachelor’s in Business Administration from what was then Stockton State College, he began a successful career that included managing restaurants, working in casino accounting departments, and working as the Director of Food and Beverage services. These positions allowed Tom to hone his skills in designing, planning and opening new restaurants, an endeavor he and son, Mike, decided to undertake together in 2015.
While at college in Philadelphia, Michael Brennan walked into Le Bec Fin and applied for a job, never imagining his need for employment would lead to a bourgeoning career as a chef. Determination and dedication enabled Mike to go from bussing tables to hosting at another legendary restaurant in Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square, where Mike gained his food prep skills and knowledge. In 2012, Mike entered The Culinary Institute of America, where he trained alongside the best chef instructors in the country. Upon graduation, Michael helped open one, before moving on to another, of this booming food town’s busiest restaurants.
Meanwhile, Tom, after a short stint in retirement, decided to open one more restaurant. A phone call later, Mike was back in Philadelphia to help create the concept. Carla, Tom’s wife, found a little corner spot with great windows in Ventnor, NJ. With a location, chef and concept, they needed a name for the restaurant and found one honoring Tom’s late mother, who was a great lover of cardinal birds.
After meeting with Carol Waties, regional director of the NJSBDC at Stockton University, Tom and Mike emerged with a business plan that they submitted to M&T Bank. Working with Carol and M&T lender, Shannon Murphy, they obtained a loan and opened in the middle of the season to rave reviews and large crowds.
Not content to rest on good reviews, or his winning entry on Food Network’s “Cooks vs. Cons” show, Michael founded For Atlantic City By Atlantic City (4ACxAC), a group of hospitality professionals who want to see Atlantic City thrive. Part of Tom’s and Mike’s plans to grow the Cardinal Bistro brand include expanding its footprint, and enhancing the dining experience by incorporating food and spirits.