(Ed.'s note: In next week's issue we'll run the photos of the farewell party the Zwerleins' held for their patrons.)
"Oh what a night!" says Janet Burke, who worked at Louie's when she was growing up here in Port and who is the organizer of the farewell parties for Louie's Shore restaurant. Of special interest to her was the party held for the employees on March 8. "It was probably one of the greatest evenings I have ever had, and I don't think I am alone in saying that." The party had an amazing turnout, especially considering the fact that former employees came from out of state (California, Vermont, New Hampshire and Florida to name a few).
The evening was filled with hugs, kisses, laughter and tears, Ms. Burke reports. "All evening long you heard, do you remember the time when..." She adds, "there were well over 200 people in attendance and the restaurant was buzzing with excitement." Even those who couldn't make the party all wanted to hear how the party was and who was there.
Recapping the evening. Ms. Burke says, "Reminiscing is what most of us did that night. We told stories about things we did together as a group. About going to Jones Beach early on Monday mornings in the summer and how Belle (a favorite old-time Louie's waitress) would cook us breakfast. We spoke about the annual summer outing to Southampton for a full day and night of pure fun. We would leave early in the morning from the Town Dock and head to Southampton caravan style. Once there, we would head to the beach and take up residence. After a day of sun we would head to Gordon and Georgette Zwerlein's summer home, Sans Souci, to shower and change and then head off to John Duck for dinner.
"We spoke about going to Louie's to show everyone how fabulous we looked on the night of the Gambol. If you were without a date to the prom you were guaranteed to go with someone from the restaurant! Kelly Mirchel went to eight proms if I remember correctly," says Janet.
Continuing her reminiscing, she says, "We spoke about water-skiing in Manhasset Bay early in the morning with the DeSimone's-they dragged me around the bay more than once. We also told stories about going fishing with Dick and Diane Zwirlein. One time in particular we were out on the sound (on the "Catch of the Day") and came across a school of bluefish; you would have thought Jaws was surrounding the boat the way Dick very excitedly told us what to do. After fishing we would head to New Rochelle for lunch to this seedy, little restaurant with the most delicious hamburgers. It was so nice to be able to socialize with the bosses. They made you feel like part of the family.
The Zwerleins are quite a unique family and offered many positive experiences for many lucky Port Washingtonians. Janet thanks the Zwerleins for providing an evening that was wondrous, overwhelming and magical. "They brought all of us together years ago and we became a family," she notes.
Several days after the reunion Janet Burke received a lovely e-mail from Dick Zwirlein saying how happy he was to be have been at the employees' party. Dick's e-mail was followed by an email from his son, Louie, telling her how much it meant to his father. She also received a phone call from Jay Zwerlein who told her how he got "chills" just thinking about how fantastic it was (fantastic being one of Jay's favorite words).
Speaking for many people whose lives have been made better in small and big ways, Ms. Burke says, "All I can say is we did it for them because they did so much for us." Expressing her gratitude, she says, "Thank you for letting us be part of your family."