“My great-great grandfather, Meinert Wachsmuth, who was from Germany and was quite the sailor, had gone around South America about seven times. Eventually, he shipwrecked in Washington State,” Schreiber says. The spot where he landed looked an awful lot like the Island of Sylt in northern Germany, which was part of Denmark at the time, and from where the Wachsmuth family was from.
Meinert noticed an abundance of native oysters there, in a town fittingly called Oysterville, in the 1860s. “He engaged in a business of shipping those oysters up and down the coast, because about that time, the Gold Rush was taking place in California and it was quite busy. And then, of course, once you start to take all the native oysters, you have to learn how to cultivate oysters, too.”
The family eventually migrated south to Portland where they opened Louis’ Oyster Bar in 1907, which started as a seafood wholesaler then became a full-fledged restaurant when Louis, Schreiber’s great-grandfather, purchased land in order to cultivate oysters in 1921. The name “Dan” was added to the business in 1938, when Dan, who was Louis’s son, died tragically at 27 from a deadly strain of influenza. The busiest years for Dan & Louis Oyster Bar followed, during World War II, due to a rise in shipbuilding in Portland.