owner, Youell’s Oyster House

“I grew up in the Lehigh Valley and got a college degree in graphic arts but I got into the restaurant business and I’ve been doing that for like 35 years now.

We had a fire in 2013 and the restaurant burned to the ground. At that point, I was faced with a decision–do I rebuild on this spot which is quirky, there’s only street parking and it’s not on a visible thoroughfare. Do I move to a better spot downtown? Ultimately I decided to stay where I was because all the businesses that went downtown initially have seen a tremendous amount of turnover.

We do what we can to help charitable organizations, we support nonprofit and faith groups. I provide good wages and a good working environment to allow people to live their dream, provide for their family. I contribute considerably to the tax base.  I feel that’s a contribution to my community here.

I would say there are a lot of things in Allentown to do. Allentown doesn’t get recognized as a big urban area. We’ve always been overlooked because we’re between markets. So you have major affiliated news stations in Philadelphia. You have them in Scranton, and we’re in between so we’re always the last to get something, at least historically. We have fun, entertainment, arts, culture, dining, things that make the quality of life we have seen over the past couple of years. It is a short jump anywhere you want to go. You turn a corner and there’s something new that you haven’t seen before. So that’s what I appreciate about Allentown.”

Interview by Rocco Corradini ’26

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