My heart goes out to Christian Filipos and his family today. After seeing video of the flames shooting out from the remains of Youell's Oyster House, Allentown, I cannot imagine how devastated the family must be.
They've been preparing the finest and freshest of seafoods for Lehigh Valley residents since Chris' dad, Constantine 'Gus' Filipos, bought the business in 1984. Then located on Easton's College Hill, it didn't take long before seafood lovers nearly swamped the place, it was routine to wait 30 minutes or more for a table on weekends. I know. I waited in those lines whenever I had a hankering for top-notch crabmeat and clams.
I was overjoyed, as were other seafood lovers, when the family opened their second location in Allentown in 1992. It was much closer to home and eliminated having to wait in line. Eventually, they sold the Easton location and focused on making the Allentown restaurant the best it could be.
In my mind, Chris is one of the Valley's top seafood authorities. And he always has put that knowledge to use to procure only the freshest and finest seafoods for his customers. In a world where chains have overwhelmed many a small restaurant, Youell's has survived and thrived because the restaurant's seafood dishes stand out.
Known for crabmeat dishes, the crab cakes there always have been outstanding and give new meaning to "jumbo lump." Their au gratin-style entrees have always delivered when guests have been in the mood for a splurge. It also has been THE place for softshells prepared in the grandest way of all -- with garlic butter, wine and lemon juice.