Louie's restaurant's new owners and its general manager, Adam Simon, were surprised and delighted when, during the course of major renovations, they discovered 100-year-old beams and other remnants of the original building. "This is real history," said Simon, "versus something like Planet Hollywood." The original building was a boathouse dating back to the beginning of the last century. It was expanded over the years, with some segments built on pilings. "We are dismantling the old building section by section," said Simon. He explained that to demolish the building all at once would have created unacceptable environmental fallout, as the debris would likely have fallen into Manhasset Bay. Instead, they are constructing the new building over and around the old one. The latter is being carefully dismantled piece by piece, and ultimately it will be completely razed. Simon mentioned that some locals have taken some of the old beams to refinish and use - for example, as tables.
Louie's, a longtime favorite Port Washington eatery, is undergoing a major transformation. The new bar and two new dining rooms will afford magnificent views of the bay, and the wraparound deck will provide ample seating for seasonal outdoor dining. The large picture windows and doors can be opened when weather permits, so that those inside will have the feeling of outdoor dining and those outside will feel part of the main restaurant. The 18-foot ceilings, which will have detailed moldings, will add to the spacious feeling. The interior is being done in what Picone described as a "1940s tavern look." Many of the historic pictures that we all remember from the old Louie's have already been hung; the others will be put up as renovations are completed. Simon said, "By day, you can watch the boats, and by night the sunset." To provide more diners with a view of the harbor, the kitchen has been moved. "Previously," said Simon, "the cooks had a million-dollar view of the bay." The brand new, up-to-date kitchen is fully operational.
The façade is also under renovation. When completed, the brick front will cover the whole face, and the entrance will be moved to the center of the building. Patrons will enter into what is now the bar, which will be converted into a takeout area.
Louie's is using local contractors to do the construction work, including general contractor Guinnane Construction. Both partners - Michael Guinnane and Martin Picone - are Port residents, as are many of the employees.
They expect renovations to be completed by early spring. "We're in home stretch," said Picone. The restaurant continues to be open for business during renovations. "We're staying open and keeping people employed," said Simon. In the old tradition, many customers still come by boat. The Louie's sign that faces the harbor is being refinished and repainted and will be reinstalled. "We found out that many boaters use that sign as a landmark," Simon commented.
He added that their goal is to have the quality of the food equal to the magnificent views. The menu is similar to the original Louie's menu, with many old favorites added back at popular request. In addition, there are new specials. Simon said that they want to keep prices affordable. Louie's offers a business lunch special at $9.95 that includes soup or salad, entrée, and dessert, served from 11:30 to 3 Monday to Friday. There is also a "sunset special" from 3:30 to 6:00 during the week, priced at $14.95. Louie's also offers an extensive wine list by the bottle and by the glass - 10 different wines are offered by the glass.
Simon said that Louie's intends to be "part of the fabric of the community." They are planning a grand opening when the renovations are complete. According to Simon, Louie's gave out food at a recent antiques street fair and at the Pride in Port dance, and also is considering running wine tastings or beer dinners to benefit local charities.
Louie's restaurant, renamed Louie's Oyster Bar and Grill, is located at 395 Main Street next to the town dock. It is open seven days for lunch and dinner.