FAMED SMITH BROS. FISH SHANTY NOW SERVES DULUTH
"Fire!" someone yelled. But it was too late. The Smith Bros. Fish Shanty Restaurant — one of the most famous buildings in Port Washington, WI — went up in flames in 1953.
But that was far from the end of the story.
By 1954, on the same site at 108 N. Franklin St., the new Smith Bros. restaurant was completed, a two-story Colonial Revival style building clad in red brick, designed by Milwaukee architect William J. Ames.
The building became a local landmark that today is the home of our Duluth Trading store. You'll see it proudly anchoring downtown as you descend the hill on Hwy 32 toward the city.
Throughout most of its 177-year history, Port Washington was the hub of a vibrant commercial fishing industry. In 1935, nearly one million pounds of whitefish, perch, herring, chubs and lake trout were caught. Quite a few of those were fried up into sandwiches at Smith Bros. Fish Shanty. The restaurant was so popular in the 1930s through the 1950s that tourists arrived by the busload.
In 1924, the restaurant consisted of just one fryer in the corner of a fish market shack. By 1940, it had 250 seats and 13 fryers. Six artesian-cooled dining rooms on two levels had nautical furniture and knotty pine walls hung with maritime memorabilia.
Twice gutted by fire and even rammed by a derailed trolley in 1930, the restaurant survived to take a central place in the civic life of Port Washington.
At Duluth, we're proud to start a new chapter in the history of this building as well as honor its past. The old Smith Bros. sign remains on the roof. The Smith Bros. Coffee House shares our space and carries on the tradition. It isn't a full restaurant, but it does have a menu and decor that tip its hat to the old Fish Shanty.
One last thing to carry on the spirit? This coming October we're reintroducing the famous fish sandwich loved in decades past. Make sure to try one when you visit our store. We're doing our best to make sure it'll taste just as good as the original!