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Our History

Our story starts back in the 40s when Lake Michigan was teeming with fish and commercial fishers lined the Chicago riverbank. First generation American Lawrence Schweig was one of them. While raising four children with his wife Eila, Lawrence built a successful career in the fishing industry. But he dreamed of working for himself. Lawrence risked it all and opened a tiny storefront where the restaurant sits today. The year was 1950.


Lawrence invested in boats to harvest the best fish Lake Michigan had to offer. He smoked fish on site to control quality and distributed seafood to restaurants and hotels throughout the city. Lawrence’s Fisheries and Schweig Smoked Fish quickly earned a reputation for value and quality. Business really took off a few years later when he introduced a 4-item menu of fried food – Shrimp, Perch, Frog Legs and Chicken – items we proudly serve to this day. The restaurant quickly expanded to 24 hours to meet the needs of shift workers in the area.

In the 60s our fishing boats were still on the water but we’d soon source everything from the coasts. Lawrence was laid to rest but his family continued to run the business. In the early 80s a complete remodel expanded facilities and added a dining area. In the 2000s we looked outwards, opening three more locations, and are making plans for more to come!

Most of the old “shrimp shacks” closed their doors, but we found a winning formula with our signature family recipes and our people. Lawrence’s is on the map as one of Chicago’s most beloved shrimp houses and a must-visit for locals and tourists alike.  

Chicago history Lawrence's Fisheries
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