Louis Charles Hasslinger, 83, owned seafood carryout

October 05, 2005|By JACQUES KELLY | JACQUES KELLY,SUN REPORTER

Louis Charles Hasslinger, a member of a Baltimore seafood family who as a Northwood carryout owner introduced a popular crab cake submarine sandwich in the 1950s, died of cancer Thursday at the Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care. The Timonium resident was 83.

Born in Baltimore, he was the grandson of another Louis Charles Hasslinger, whose nine children all went into the crab and oyster business in Baltimore and once had nine locations.

While attending City College, Mr. Hasslinger learned how to cook and sell seafood from his father, who had a carryout and sit-down restaurant at Washington Street and Lafayette Avenue.

"Crab cakes were mainly bar food, and he delivered them all over the city," said his son, Craig Hasslinger, who owns and operates Golden Clipper Catering in Phoenix. "Some bar owners wanted their crab cakes a little saltier to encourage their customers to drink more beer."

Mr. Hasslinger graduated from City College in 1940 and joined the Marine Corps. He fought in the battle of Tarawa Atoll during World War II. After the war, the Hasslingers - the father, his sons and his brother Jack Hasslinger - opened an air-conditioned restaurant, which was then a novelty, at Fayette Street and Luzerne Avenue. It closed in 1965.

In 1958, Mr. Hasslinger struck out on his own with the Seafood & Delicatessen Carry Out Shoppe at 5818 Hillen Road, in the Belvedere Gardens Shopping Center. His advertising literature focused on Hasslinger as "The name that made Baltimore famous for seafood."

According to an original menu preserved by his son, Mr. Hasslinger offered fare including raw scallops, clam chowder, crab soup, fried oysters, oyster stew, and a seafood submarine sandwich of haddock, shrimp, crab cake, lettuce, tomato and tartar sauce, which he introduced because he wanted to keep up with carryout food trends of the era.

Mr. Hasslinger described his place as a "carryout home restaurant" and "a place to buy a meal already cooked and ready to serve at home."

"On a Friday, it was not unusual for us to have 3,000 orders," his son said. "He had 25 persons working in the kitchen to keep up with the crush. Our customers were loyal and they would wait as long as 25 or 30 minutes."

Craig Hasslinger said his father's success as a prepared-seafood vendor was connected to the cooking oil he used - a blend of vegetable oil and animal fat, which was also used for french fries.

"The taste people remember from Hasslinger's is definitely an old-Baltimore seafood taste connected to deep-frying," his son said. "Deep-frying isn't popular these days, but it does taste good."

Because of the family's German heritage, Mr. Hasslinger also sold - at 85 cents a pint - sour beef and dumplings.

"He would take sides of Esskay beef and cut them into cubes, then marinate them in the refrigerator for four days. He made his dumplings from riced new potatoes with a crouton in the center," his son recalled. "His gravy was full of brown sugar. We sold hundreds and hundreds of orders."

Mr. Hasslinger also was a caterer. For many years, he supplied thousands of crab cakes for the city's annual Flower Mart. When he fed about 3,000 Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. employees and guests at an oyster roast at the 5th Regiment Armory, the utility ran extra gas lines to Mr. Hasslinger's deep-fryers, where he and his staff prepared 12,000 oysters.

Mr. Hasslinger sold the carryout to his son in 1973 and moved to Singer Island, Fla., where he opened two Hallmark card franchise stores. He retired in 1993 and returned to the Baltimore area in 1996. The Northwood carryout closed about 15 years ago.

In retirement, he painted in oils and drew in colored pencil and pastels. He gave his pictures to friends and family members.

Services were held Saturday.

In addition to his son, survivors include his wife of 63 years, the former Doris C. Slaysman; a daughter, Donna Hasslinger of Potomac; a brother, Jack Hasslinger of Parkville; three grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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