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Spotlight On: Lawrence's Fisheries

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Oct 12, 2005 2:02PM


The intersection of Cermak Road and Canal Street is a sort of no-man's land. Warehouses in various stages of occupancy and disrepair dot the landscape; the Chicago River, Amtrak, and Orange Line tracks run parallel for a stretch; bridges allow the intersection to serve as a shortcut into Pilsen, Chinatown, Bridgeport, and downtown. Most of us wouldn't think of this area as a place to get some good fish. Yet that's just what Lawrence's Fisheries has been serving up for fifty-five years.

The history of Lawrence's Fisheries goes back to 1950 when founder Lawrence Schweig purchased Post Fisheries, a commercial fishing venture. Schweig later re-named the company Lawrence's Fisheries and Schweig Smoked Fish, opening a storefront at 2120 South Canal Street, next to the Canal Street Bridge. Originally Lawrence's sold only fresh smoked fish, largely caught in Lake Michigan on the fishing vessel "Eila Marie", which was named after Schweig's wife.

As the years progressed the Schweig family gradually shifted the focus of Lawrence's Fisheries to retail and breaded fish dinners. Their current building opened in 1973, with a dining room added a few years later. Today Lawrence's Fisheries is popular with families on the go, long time south side residents, and those trying to ward off the effects of a long night of power drinking. The portions of Lawrence's dinners are generous- Chicagoist often needs a take-out bag for leftovers- and cheap. Half-pound dinners run between six-to-seven dollars. Lawrence's has some of the best catfish Chicagoist has eaten that wasn't from the deep south, with a rich corn meal breading and liberal helpings of their proprietary hot sauce.

So if you find yourself down on Canal Street after a long night out try on Lawrence's Fisheries for size. They're located at 2120 S. Canal Street. They're open 24 hours and the phone number is (312) 225-2113. You may also fax in your order to (312) 225-8879. Best of all, since Lawrence's is so close to downtown they deliver, which is a godsend for you South Loop residents.