Lester C. Spittel Sr., 74, owned chain of crab houses in the Baltimore area

September 03, 1996|By Erica C. Harrington | Erica C. Harrington,SUN STAFF

Lester C. Spittel Sr., owner of a small chain of crab houses in the Baltimore area, died in his sleep Sunday at his home in Ellicott City. He was 74.

A restaurateur for most of his life, Mr. Spittel started National Pike Crab House in Ellicott City in 1966 and Spittel's Half Shell in Catonsville in 1974. He opened two other locations in Glen Burnie and Mount Airy. Noted favorably in 1981 by an Evening Sun restaurant critic for a "heavy hand on the seasoning," the restaurants were Mr. Spittel's life's ambition, said his daughter Vicki Stahly of Baltimore.

"His businesses were his hobby," she said. "They were his biggest desire and goal in life."

Mrs. Stahly said opening the crab restaurants was "like an adventure" for her father, who did not like seafood.

"He never ate seafood, unless you count tuna fish as seafood," she said. "He picked crabs because it was good business. Who knew the crab business would take off?"

Mr. Spittel loved spending time with customers, many of whom became regulars, Mrs. Stahly said. Her father was known for his sense of humor, Mrs. Stahly said, and he "missed his calling as a comedian."

Born in Baltimore, Mr. Spittel served as a chief warrant officer in the Navy from 1942 to 1946.

He was a lifelong member of Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Catonsville.

Services will be held at 10 a.m. tomorrow at the Witzke Funeral Home, 4112 Columbia Pike.

Mr. Spittel is survived by his wife of 45 years, the former Eileen Betty Smith; two other daughters, Deborah Spittel of Pasadena and Betty Waesche of Baltimore; two sons, Lester Spittel Jr. of Chase and Anthony Spittel of Carroll County; three sisters, Catherine Knight, Doris Keys and Eleanor Clark, all of Baltimore; three brothers, Vernon Spittel, Roland Spittel and Herbert Spittel, all of Baltimore; and nine grandchildren.

Pub Date: 9/03/96

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