Mercy Hospital St. Louis co-workers from several departments and offices surprised patient Louis Oldani, Sr., with a 100th birthday celebration on Dec. 19, one day after his actual birthday.
Louie, as he insists on being called, comes in regularly for care and is well-known by many at Mercy. The party, complete with cake, ice cream, balloons and presents, was hosted by his many friends in Mercy Wound and Ostomy Care and was attended by co-workers from several other departments including respiratory therapy and property management, as well as representatives from the office of Louie’s long-time Mercy physician, Charles Rehm, MD.
“I’ve been going to him since he was three days out of medical school,” Louie quipped.
Louie was accompanied by his son, Louis, Jr., and kept the group laughing as he opened his many gifts. Not only is he famous around Mercy for his personality, but also holds a place in St. Louis history with the invention of toasted ravioli. He was asked to tell the story of how toasted ravioli came about at his restaurant, Oldani’s Steakhouse, on the Hill in 1942. One of his cooks accidentally dropped a few ravioli into a fryer. When he discovered and tasted them a few minutes later, he thought they were so good, he asked Louie to try them, too. Louie agreed they were delicious but took some time to think about what to call them before putting them on the menu.
As he said, “You couldn’t call them ravioli cooked in grease. Who would want that?” Louie finally settled on toasted ravioli – and a St. Louis tradition was born.
Toasted ravioli is now widely popular. Oldani’s Steakhouse is history. But Louie is still very active. He drives every day, mowed his own grass last summer and was the life of his birthday party. Louie attributes his longevity to eating good food. He still eats out four nights a week and says he spends the other three nights eating the leftovers.