Summer at Chowder House!

June Seafood Platter
This summer, Chowder House Café is featuring a fresh seafood selection, including the Seafood Platter.

By Mitch Allen

The joys of visiting East Coast towns—from Florida to Maine—include the many seafood restaurants. We don’t have that luxury here in Northeast Ohio, where sports bars proliferate, and fresh seafood houses are a rarity.

One such gem is Chowder House Café, once located in Cuyahoga Falls and now delightfully at home in Akron’s Merriman Valley. While “Chowder House” may suggest a soup joint, that ain’t what it is. Co-proprietors Louis and Kerry Prpich have fresh seafood shipped in every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and prepare it in innovative ways, including sea bass, scallops, halibut, and lobster.

Chef Louis grew up in Ohio but spent many hours in the kitchen of his Kentucky grandmother. “She took in boarders, so we were always cooking,” Louis says. “I even helped her can foods and snap green beans. She’d say, ‘You can go play as soon as we finish snapping this bushel.’”

Cacio De Pepe (seared scallops over fresh fettuccini tossed with sweet cream butter, parmesan cheese and black pepper).

Please Come to Boston
After culinary school in Pittsburgh, where he mastered lobster thermidor and how to handle a whole fish, making stock from the skin and bones, Louis did a stint at Boston’s Wyndham Hotel. “It was my first time living on the East Coast, and though I already knew I loved seafood, I had never lived in a fisherman town,” he says. “All along the coast, you could get prime rib and lobsters for 20 bucks. I was required to take off two days a week, so we’d throw the kids in the car and drive up and down the coast hitting all the little places.”

Although Louis had worked in the business since high school at Akron institutions like Rockne’s and Nick Anthe’s (and served in the army), it was at the Wyndham where he began to gain the confidence to start his own restaurant.

“They had a very thick manual, and I had to do more than cook,” he says. “I was also required to wash dishes and learn to make beds. It was a real education.”

Cioppino, a San Francisco-style stew with shrimp, scallops, fish, and mussels.
Alaskan Halibut OG over mashers with asparagus and an orange butter sauce.

Back Home
Louis and Kerry returned to Akron when Kerry’s dad became ill, and Louis found positions at other area favorites, including Barrington Country Club, Triva, Misto, Greystone Hall, and The Office on Main Street in Cuyahoga Falls, after which he started Chowder House in 2009.

“We named it Chowder House because we started with soups, salads and a few entrées,” Louis says. “But we’re also known for our clam chowder. I don’t put potatoes in it, by the way. I know that’s controversial around here, but it leaves more room for clams. If I have clam chowder somewhere and it’s filled with potatoes, I know just how the rest of the meal is going to go.”

Today, Louis and Kerry’s Chowder House features a much larger dinner menu, plus daily specials, a new three-course chef’s menu, and even lunch. One of the top sellers is the Seafood Pappardelle, which features lobster, shrimp and scallops simmered in a three-cheese lobster cream sauce made with house-made fish stock over hand-cut Ohio City pasta. You can also enjoy the dish at lunch at a reduced price (other lunch favorites include the Salmon Reuben and an open-faced prime rib sandwich).

When Louis and Kerry Prpich moved Chowder House from Cuyahoga Falls to Merriman Valley, they had custom wallpaper made to recreate the colorful, artistic walls of the original location.

Shuck & Roll
Liberty Commons, where Chowder House is located, is about to undergo a major renovation, returning it to its heyday of the 1970s and 80s, Louis says. Until then he has created a patio in the parking lot to host his popular outdoor Shuck & Roll event every Thursday from 6-9 p.m.

“It’s a great time,” Louis invites. “The bar is set up, we’re shucking oysters, and there’s always live music.”

Chowder House Café is located at 1244 Weathervane Lane in Akron’s Merriman Valley. The phone is 234-901-4426. Find the website at