Dorothy Jean Loux, 89, ran restaurant popular with Bel Air legal community

January 19, 2002|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Dorothy Jean Loux, whose Coachman's Bar & Grill was a popular Bel Air destination for the town's legal and business community for years, died Jan. 12 of heart failure at her Roland Avenue home there. She was 89.

From the early 1960s until she closed the restaurant in the late 1970s, Mrs. Loux (whose name was pronounced Lou) served up steaming bowls of homemade crab and chicken soup, fragrantly seasoned stews, juicy sirloin steaks and perfectly cooked Maryland seafood specialties to hungry lawyers, judges, juries, businessmen and other courthouse hangers-on.

Each day, they jammed the dining rooms and bar of the restaurant in the basement of the old Masonic Temple at Court and Office streets.

The restaurant took its name from a colorful 19th-century street scene, which included coaches, carriages, and an inn named Coachmen's, that was painted on the walls.

Guests came at lunch and dinner to talk politics, swap gossip and speculate on which way juries would go, while sipping beer, drinking a perfectly mixed Manhattan or nursing a tall scotch and soda.

Mrs. Loux, who had owned and operated a bakery in Bel Air since 1955, opened the restaurant formerly known as the Regal.

"Everybody went there. It was just good country cooking. It wasn't fancy and the prices didn't break you," said Harry L.W. "Tombstone" Hopkins, Harford County registrar of wills.

Thomas Carroll Brown, a Bel Air attorney for 50 years and a partner in the law firm of Brown, Brown & Brown, which had been founded by his father in 1901, also dropped in for an occasional meal.

"It was kind of like the town square or a meeting place where everyone went. It was a good place to adjourn for a quick cup of coffee or a sandwich. While juries deliberated someone's fate, it wasn't uncommon to see lawyers and witnesses sitting there enjoying a meal together," Mr. Brown said.

John D. Worthington IV, publisher of The Aegis in Bel Air, first was taken to the restaurant by his father when a boy.

"The restaurant had low ceilings, was dark and you entered down a pair of back steps. It was a place where the power people went to eat, like C. Stanley Blair, the late Harford County Republican politician. You'd see people in there talking and reading newspapers," Mr. Worthington said.

"Mrs. Loux was the hardest-working woman I ever saw. She was always so nice and came up and spoke to everyone. She was a real nice lady," he said.

"She was a great woman. She was tiny, had a soft face like an elf, and gray hair, and her homemade soups and walnut Danish were to die for," said Todd Holden, a Bel Air photographer and former Aegis reporter.

"She was quick-witted and could talk to anyone. And she also didn't take any crap off anyone, either. She put her foot down and you behaved when you were in her place," said Mr. Holden, recalling the sometimes loud and raucous behavior of guests who had been drinking.

Born Dorothy Plummer in Flat Ridge, Va., the daughter of a farmer, she moved to Churchville as a child. The youngest of 10 children, she left Harford County public schools in the eighth grade to help support her family.

She was married in the early 1930s to Warren Hamilton, a driver for Rice's Bakery, who was killed in a traffic accident in 1947. In 1948, she married Donald E. Loux, a baker at Rice's Bakery, and the next year opened a bakery in Aberdeen. The couple, who later divorced, moved the bakery to Bel Air. It is now operated by her son, James W. Hamilton of Churchville.

For years, Mrs. Loux donated baked goods and other food to the needy. When there was a fire, she made sure firefighters had plenty of hot coffee and doughnuts to eat. When a new schoolteacher came to town, she provided them with a room and meals in her home until they found accommodations.

"She took in people like they were stray cats. Our house was like Grand Central Station with people coming and going. Her house and front door was always open and people knew that," said her daughter Donna J. Scotton of Delta, Pa.

Services were held yesterday.

Other survivors include a daughter, Patricia J. Potter of Churchville; a brother, Cicero Plummer of Churchville; a sister, Madge L. Plummer of Churchville; four grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

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