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'It's been daily planning': Historic Milwaukee County deli hopes to get past uncertain times

Posted at 9:02 PM, Mar 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-31 23:26:02-04

MILWAUKEE COUNTY — Benji's Deli has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, but the historic restaurant in Shorewood and Fox Point is still open and hopes you order from them this #TakeoutTuesday. Under the governor's 'Safer at Home' order, they're an "essential" business that can operate with takeout and delivery.

Mike Price remains at a loss for words, thinking about what's happened at Benji's these past few weeks.

"It's been painful, to say the least," Price said. "The clamor, the noise, miss that. It's very quiet, so all I hear is the ringing of DoorDash, instead of the voices of people."

The New York-style deli that's been a part of the Greater Milwaukee community since 1963, and Price's life for 30 years, is not the same.

"It's been a rollercoaster. It's been daily planning," Price said.

Concerns over the coronavirus forced restaurants to close or find alternative forms of service.

Luckily for Benji's, they were already set up for takeout, but Price said they've still had to make significant changes at their spots in Shorewood and Fox Point, which included laying off two-thirds of their employees.

"Trying to keep the operation running and also do the business aspect of it, has been just really challenging," Price said.

However, the business has been through tough times before.

"If you think about it in '63 when Werner opened it, you know a few years later we were in the Vietnam War, you know we worked through that," Price said.

It's loyal customers like John Waeltz, who will help keep them running and give them hope.

"Benji's is the best place to come for sandwiches," Waeltz said.

"It's been in this neighborhood for 50 plus years, you know, and we would love to keep it going, you know another 50," Price said.

Both locations are open for to-go orders and pickup, including curbside service. You can also order delivery through DoorDash. If you would like to call ahead, the number for Benji's in Shorewood is (414) 332-7777. The number in Fox Point is (414) 228-5130.

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