“Most professional operation I have worked with. The very best”
What we now know as Louis' Resevoir, which is located at the southwest corner of Lake Street and Villa Avenue, was for 71 years the site of a DuPage County landmark "roadhouse" restaurant. Hungarian immigrant Louis Bosworth and his wife, Marie, opened their eatery as this spot in 1918 with four booths, two tables, and a bar for 40. Louis was born in Hannisdorf, Hungary, in the 1880s and learned the retaurant business at the Wirtzhaupt Restaurant in Budapest at the age 13. After immigrating to the United States in the early 1900s,he continued his career as a waiter in Chicago and later at a Forest Park restaurant called Otto's.
Early patrons were hunters who had come out to DuPage County to find duck, pheasant, and other wild fowl. Others who stopped at Louis' were on their way from Chicago to Elgin or Rockford traveling on Lake Street, which was the only major road to those destinations at the time.In 1916 he purchased property in Addison and built the restaurant, which also served as a home.
Homemade soups, creamed spinach, and sliced tenderloins on rye bread made locally by Peterson Webner Bakery were some of the famous dishes served. The Bosworths grew their own vegetables, hunted and butchered animals, and even smoked their own hams behind the restaurant.
Porches were added around the orignial building in 1920, the bar was remodeled in 1940, a banquet room added in 1946, and the most recent additions were completed in 1971. Louis was an orphan himself, and many of his original customers were visitors to the orphanage in Addison. Those same customers who were brought to the restaurant as young children became Louis' customers as adults.
Some of the famous people who dined at Louis' over the years were former Illinois governors William Stratton & Jim Thompson; Bill Veeck Sr & Jr; Johnny Weismueller; Red Grange; Burl Ives; Bobby Hull; Mr & Mrs Howie Dean of Dean's Milk Co; and Mr & Mrs Schwinn of the Schwinn Bicycle Co.
Among the memories of the past were: the live bear, which as a cub had been brought back from a hunting trip in Canada by Louis' prohibition, founding meetings of several organizations, and many weddings and anniversaries. Local civic groups such as Kiwanis, Lions, and Rotary Club held regular meetings at Louis'.
The restaurant flooded several times, especially in the 1970s and 1980, due to heavy rains and the increased use of land in the area or development. Brass plaques depicting high water marks that had been reached during floods were displayed in the lobby. The restaurant was particularly hard hit by flooding in 1987, when it sustained damage amounting to 70% of its value.
Louis' closed its doors on January 6, 1989 and sold the eight-acre site on which it was located to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for a price of $876,000. F.E.M.A. then turned over the ownership of the land to the Village of Addison with the understanding that the restaurant was to be demolished and the site kept as open land to help alleviate any future flooding.
Two detention ponds, capable of holding at least 215 acre feet of water, are now in the where Louis' Restaurant once stood. An acre foot is the amount of water that would cover an acre of land a foot deep, or 325,872 galllons. Eleven acres from the adjacent Ranar Partnership property are also a part of this flood control project, which offers protection to at least 200 homes in the Home Addition, Normandy Manor, and Green Meadows subdivisions.
Louis' was in the second and third generations of the Bosworth family ownership. Louis' Reservoir now welcomes those passing by in much the same way Louis Bosworth's restaurant did on the same site for 70 years.
- Courtesy of Addison Historical Society
Click here to view the financial summary for The Ervin T. and Dorthy Bosworth Memorial Endowed Scholarship provided by Elmhurst College.