Louie's: 5 Generations!
by Chris Bain
[with heartfelt thanks to the Zwerlein family for their help assembling this information]
Restaurants come and go. We can all probably name a dozen restaurants in Port Washington that are no longer with us. Here are some to get your brain cells churning: Bradley’s, Miramar, Gildos (WInston’s), Bill’s Harbor Inn, The Riviera, The Library, The Club House, Aqua Manor, Andy’s, Scotto’s, The Embers, Youngs, Augie’s, Jonathan’s, Orlando’s, Jimmy’s Backyard, Hogan’s Pub, The Inn, Cow Bay Wine & Cheese, The Barge… and there are more, of course. In fact, when you are finished with this column, head over to our Facebook page and remind everyone of other restaurants, diners, pizzerias that we somehow overlooked!
In 1837 a young man emigrated from Kaiserlaten, Germany and settled in College Point, on Long Island. He opened a saloon and joined the local fire department. Eventually Louis Zwerlein rose to the level of Captain of the Enterprise Hose Company.
After a time, the family moved to Port Washington, and in 1905 opened a floating restaurant dubbed the "Kare Killer”. Anchored in mid-bay, and offering a menu featuring the freshest fish and a wide choice of adult beverages, the Kare Killer could only be reached by boat. Sadly, the Kare Killer’s days were numbered as the national move toward Prohibition took over, finally becoming law in 1920.
The Zwerlein family then pivoted and "opened a shop along the harbor, renting boats, selling chowder, steamers, clams and lobsters.”
In 1932, after North Hempstead evicted a whole row of entrenched squatters along the shoreline, the family moved their business 50 yards south, and opened Louie’s.
Decade after decade, Louie’s entertained many generations of Port Washington residents young and old, providing great food & drink and more often than not, perfect sunsets over Manhasset Bay.
In the 1980’s, I photographed the side of Louie’s restaurant with their then classic neon sign (yes, using Kodachrome). In 2014, a very talented local artist and teacher, Lawrence Chrapliwy [d.2018] created a beautiful 2’x3’ painting of that scene using my photograph for inspiration. He captured the essence of the Louie’s that Port residents knew and loved for decades.