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Meet Lester and Benjamin Schlan of Max and Benny’s Restaurant, Deli & Bakery in Northbrook

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lester and Benjamin Schlan.

The company was founded 32 years ago. Lester Schlan had developed a taste for the business working with his father’s food supply company for many years. He had moved to the North Shore, and saw a glaring need for an authentic, homemade scratch deli. With Rhea, his wife, they developed Max and Benny’s, named for their two young sons. Their first location was in Glenview, and quickly became a neighborhood favorite, offering fresh baked bagels every day, and incorporating many home grown family recipes that couldn’t be beat. By 1994, it was time to grow and expand, and they moved to the location in Northbrook where they remain to this day. Highlights include the world famous Reuben and the homemade Matzo Ball soup. Along with a successful deli style restaurant, they also built up their bakery, offering the city’s best rugelach and mandel bread, and creating hand decorated cookies that wow the eyes as much as the taste buds.

Overall, Max and Benny’s is about family. Benny has started a family of his own and has taken over the reins. Customers who came as children now bring their kids and grandkids by. From stopping by the deli for some goodies, or hosting a private affair in the party room, Max and Benny’s has spent over three decades creating a fun, delicious family friendly setting serving homemade, classic food.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Being a deli in 2017 at times can feel like an endangered species. Over the last several decades, there has a been a rise of gourmet supermarkets, fast serve restaurants, healthy eateries and coffee houses galore. All the while, traditional delis have been fading away.

It is a challenge we take head on. Adjusting to the times is not easy, but it’s important to always find a way to do so while retaining what makes us special. Our high quality offerings and various business models (carry out, bakery, catering) I believe can stand the test of time. We bring a feeling of nostalgia and togetherness within the community that I hope never goes away. I am proud of what my family put together and hope to maintain that special brand for as long as I can. (So far, so good)

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Max and Benny’s Restaurant, Deli & Bakery – what should we know?
We host many great “event” nights.

We host monthly Chicago Author discussions, including authors such as Scott Turow and Ron Balson. We do Trivia nights, host comedy nights, as well as regular family nights where do activities such as Challah Making and cookie decorating!

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
Max and Benny’s has always been about family, and that family extends to the countless employees, managers and suppliers who have helped keep it successful along the way. Many of the staff have been here for over two decades, and a lot of the success comes from the consistency these individuals put into their work day after day. Currently, we have 90 employees, and every last person is needed to keep things humming along.

We also have a plethora of regular customers who we appreciate thoroughly. Their support has kept us going through thick and thin, and it means the world.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 461 Waukegan Rd
  • Website:
  • Phone: 8472729490
  • Email:
  • Facebook: maxandbennys
  • Twitter: @maxandbennys

Getting in touch: VoyageChicago is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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