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Louie Canelakes Died Today

I just received a text from Tim. He reports Louie Canelakes, owner of Louie’s, passed away today. I’ve got some calls out for details which I will pass along ASAP. Apparently he had been ill for some time and died today from a heart attack.

Update: I just spoke with a friend of the family who said Louie had been in the hospital for pneumonia. Sadly, Louie was only 58.

The first time I met Louie in the mid-70s.  He was a bartender at Joe Miller’s on McKinney and Lemmon, where The Loon now operates. Joe Miller’s was the ultimate hangout in Dallas. Every night (day!) You would find politicians, lawyers, judges, and journalists sharing stories late into the night (day!). One could sit for hours and listen to Louie. At the end of the night, he would load people on his shoulder and carry them to their cars. When owner Joe Miller died of cancer in December 1985, Louie kept pouring (deep) for loyal patrons.

In a  recap of 1986 published in D Magazine, Brad Bailey writes:

Speaking of bar wars, in May we named Louis Canelakes one of the ten best bartenders in Dallas. In August,  we reported that he had been fired from his longtime job at Joe Miller’s by Miller’s widow, Linda. As the year draws to a close, Louie is involved in negotiations to open his own joint. He guarantees it will be at least as tacky as his former venue. Linda Miller has made some overtures to bury the hatchet; Louie figures the best place for it is still her head. “I got an attitude. When I’m in my own bar, I’ll forget it, it never happened. But right now I got an attitude. I been livin’ on beans and franks.”

Canelakes opened his own joint on Henderson where he and his brother Chris ran one of the most popular bars in Dallas. The two guys from Illinois were known for their dry senses of humor and their thin crust “Waukegan-style pizza.” Louie’s was featured on Diners, Drive-ins & Dives in March 2009.

Louis Canelakes was a unique Dallas character. His death is a enormous loss for our city and our vibrant, eclectic restaurant/bar scene. I can hear his scratchy low voice telling me to shut up. So I will.

Bless you, Louie. I hope you and Joe are standing together next to the big fish tank in the sky.

30 comments on “Louie Canelakes Died Today

  1. As a Louie’s regular, this is a huge loss and quite a shock. I haven’t seen him the last few times I’ve been there so I wondered if he was sick. RIP Louie.

  2. We had been missing Louie for the past few weeks as thursday regulars. This is a tremendous loss. Our thoughts and love go out to his family and his employees John, Beth, Jennifer and Casey.

  3. Deborah and I’s “Louie Thursday” will not be the same. Our thoughts go out to John, Beth, Jennifer and Casey. RIP Louie!

  4. My goodness. Sad news. Lou has been my bartender since 1979, almost 35 years now. Hard to imagine having a bartender that long….and he wasn’t that old, either. A seemingly confirmed bachelor, he finally married and his wonderful wife delivered triplets!! They are all sophomores in college now, I think. Around Christmas ’87, after he’d left Joe Miller’s but before he opened Louie’s and married, I spent an evening at his home with he and his ill father. The three of us shared a bottle of champagne. A toast anew to the man and his clan.

  5. Beautiful Nancy.

    Peace and strength to all those who knew him and his family.
    Rest in peace Louie, you were loved dearly.

  6. Louie has been my confessor /bartender since 1976…a man of vision..in the words of Captain Woodrow F. Call “A man’s vision,you say. Yeah. Hell of vision .”

  7. I was at louies on opening night what a real good guy my thoughts and prayers are with his family 3kids mother Alex and brother Chris and Beth and John we will miss you Bunny and Harold

  8. I am stunned and heartbroken. I hadn’t seen him since I left Dallas in 2005. I’m going to be there this coming weekend and had planned to make Louie’s my first stop to get a good dose of him. My love and light to everyone affected by this terrible, terrible loss. Dallas will never be the same.

  9. I was tending bar at Knox St Pub and was a regular at Joe Miller’s when I met Louie. I went on to S F Rose when he opened Louie’s, and I became a regular there until I moved out of state. Louie was one of the last great bartenders bartender R. I. P. Louie.

  10. Today is a sad day in Dallas. For years my closest friend and I kicked back at Louie’s every Thursday night to ring in the weekend. That went away as my buddy moved out of town and I started a family, but we’d always make a trip back when he was visiting. Louie was my Chicago connection. My older daughter and his kids went to school together, and a couple of months ago I was in to pick up a pizza and we chatted about the kids. He seemed pretty low key, almost melancholy. He will be missed greatly. RIP Louie.

  11. A very sad day for Dallas. My oldest, dearest friend and I would spend Thursday evenings at Louie’s to ring in the weekend, until he moved out of town and my wife and I started our family. Louie was my Chicago connection, and Louie’s was my comfort. My older daughter and his kids went through school together, and I was in a few weeks ago to bring home a pizza. We chatted a bit about the kids, and he was pretty quiet, almost melancholy. RIP Louie.

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  13. As a good Greek, Louie knew how to run a restaurant/bar. My Greek grandfather (who also ran a restaurant) used to say “the restaurant business is show business”! and Louie clearly understood that. Louie’s food has always been good but the atmosphere (especially when Louie’s around) makes it s special place. You will be missed Louie.

  14. I really, really liked Louie. This is sad news indeed. He will be missed by many. It’s the end of an era for Dallas.

  15. This was the nickname Lou gave me the first night I met him at Joe Millers in 1985 and one he continued to use while I was a patron, an employee and a patron again at Louie’s over these last 28 years. He was the real genius!! I’ll miss you my friend.

  16. RIP, Louie. My thoughts and prayers are with your sweet family. Thank you for all of the good times – great memories and fantastic food.

  17. RIP, Louie. Give a toast in Heaven to Schurba and you from Sharolyn and me. You will be greatly missed. Thank you for all the great memories, good times and conversations and excellent food.
    My thoughts and prayers are with your sweet family and children.

  18. Louie sat next to me for two years in our junior high classes in Waukegan, Illinois. He was very funny! I have a brother who has lived in the Dallas area for five years and my daughter and her husband live in Fort Worth. I was always hoping to make a stop at Louie’s to say hi to a long lost classmate. Sadly, that will not happy. I believe he must have been very happy in his work and community and that is a blessing indeed!

  19. A rarity that a place may modernize toward the changing neighborhood, but yet keep its exciting small-bar feel and amazing food. Change nothing (I need another pizza).

    Huge Loss. RIP. AMDG.

  20. RIP Louie!!! Hopefully the restaurant can carry on your grand tradition! What a sad loss for the restaurant world of Dallas!