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Oak Harbor pizza maker takes shot at running own business with his brand as cornerstone
From the top floor of Louie-G’s Pizza restaurant, it’s easy to get caught up gazing out the windows that offer a nearly panoramic view of Oak Harbor.
It’s a unique atmosphere for a bar with natural light and such scenery. Toss in the four big screen televisions upstairs and the restaurant’s subscription to DirecTV’s NFL Sunday Ticket, and it’s easy to see why the place increases in popularity come game time.
But those better acquainted with the surroundings understand that the real magic happens downstairs.
It’s in the kitchen where John Youngsman Sr. uses his three decades of pizza-making experience to create New York style pizza that is the restaurant’s biggest draw.
Youngsman, 69, bought the business from the previous owners of “Football Bat Sports Bar and Grill,” changed the name and started a new chapter in his life.
“Louie-G’s Pizza” opened its doors in early May.
Youngsman’s pizza already was a staple at the previous business, but now it is the cornerstone and has taken on the restaurant’s name.
“I just wanted to do my own thing,” Youngsman said.
Youngsman formerly worked as longtime manager of the Oak Bowl & Mario’s Pizza on Midway Boulevard. It was there where he watched and learned from a “fifth generation” pizza maker who’d toss dough into the air.
Youngsman ultimately ventured out on his own making pizza in 1990, naming his brand after the Mario Brothers arcade game character Luigi, only spelled differently.
His Louie-G’s brand was served at Ebey Bowl in Coupeville and was delivered throughout Whidbey Island.
With his sons John Jr. and Jason as part of the business, Youngsman got the chance to run his own place and took it.
Louie-G’s Pizza is located in a highly visible spot at the corner of Pioneer Way and Highway 20.
More than three months in business, Youngsman is excited how things have started, though it can be difficult to tell sometimes by his quiet nature. But his smile says it all.
He likes to work behind the scenes and make sure his customers’ taste buds and appetites are satisfied.
“I’m more into the food aspect,” he said.
With the NFL regular season approaching, Youngsman expects even more customers.
His restaurant features seven big-screen TVs. With Sunday Ticket, multiple games will be playing at the same time.
Groups call to reserve a table to watch a particular football game.
“I live for this part of it,” John Jr. said.
Majority rules determine which games will be watched on television, but the Seattle Seahawks games will be shown on at least one of the TVs when they’re playing, John Jr. said.
Other popular items on the Louie-G’s menu are hamburgers and hot wings. In the lounge upstairs, seven different types of beers are on tap.
Some brave customers attempt the restaurant’s hottest of hot wings in a contest called “Louie-G’s Dumb Idea Wing Challenge.”
The sauce contains habanero and Moruga Scorpion Pepper, among other peppers. Those who try must sign a waiver.
As of last week, 42 people tried and seven succeeded to make the “Wall of Flame.”
Youngsman wasn’t one of them.
“I can’t even be in the kitchen when we make it,” he said.