503-227-5906, 208 SW Ankeny St, Portland
The sidewalk between 2nd & 3rd on Ankeny Street was stacked with boxes of live crabs. It was 1907 and Louis C. Wachsmuth was carting them inside to the big, briny crab pot. Dealing in seafood was nothing new for Louis. He grew up working with his father and brothers on the family oyster farm in Oysterville, Washington. Louis’ father Meinert Wachsmuth was born on the Isle of Sylt, off the coast of Denmark in 1842. At the age of fourteen he stowed away on an ocean going vessel and wound up shipping before the mast for nearly ten years. He sailed aroung the Horn seven times before settling down to work the trade route between San Francisco and the oyster rich bays of Oregon and Washington. He decided to end his maritime career when he was shipwrecked at Yaquina Bay, Oregon, aboard the schooner Annie Doyle in 1865. In 1869 Meinert married Elizabeth Sullivan and moved to Oysterville. He and his bride were blessed with three sons before they returned to San Francisco where Louis was born in 1877. While in California, Meinert worked for the Moraghan Oyster Company but moved back to Oysterville in 1881 to set up his own business. Louis learned to shuck oysters the next at the age of five and developed a lifelong curiosity about the succulent bivalves while growing up along the shores of Shoalwater Bay.
Meinert retired and sold his entire oyster holdings in 1903. Louis followed his older brothers Harry and Theodore to Portland, Oregon. He worked as a delivery man, cook, & oyster shucker, before opening a wholesale and retail seafood store serving oyster cocktails. In 1919 with advent of prohibition Louis acquired the food bar from the famous Merchant’s Exchange Saloon formerly located on 1st & Aiken and decided that a piping hot oyster stew wold be a tasty addition to his tiny menu. Soon the old bar couldn’t accommodate the growing number of hungry customers and Louis built several small dining rooms adjacent to the bar. Seating for larger parties was provided when the “Main” dining room with its distinctive sailing ship interior was built in 1937. The opening of the “Reserve” dining room with the ship shaped kitchen “Star of Oregon” followed in 1940.
Good oysters on the half shell. They were sold out of the oysters Rockefeller which was disappointing. The oyster stew and clam chowder both were outstanding. Had an amazing local Portland brew Alameda P-town Pilsner. Very, very tasty. It was cool eating outside on a beautiful early summer evening. Check it out would definitely come back.
I wish I could remember the name of the really nice, sweet woman who served me. The oysters and clam chowder were nice but after driving all day to get to Portland, she made my day.
So awesome across the board… architecture, food, bar… favorite place for raw oysters on the half shell in Portland…
Great location in downtown Portland.Great oysters.
I love the history of the place and the oysters are always wonderful.
If you are even within 100 miles of Dan and Louis, you must come! Ask for Holly and make sure to wear your UK gear. The absolute best customer service you may ever experience along with great food and the best sourdough bread around.