How many restaurants survive 50 years of business? In Orange County, the answer is Benjies. A timeless menu, solid service and nostalgic feel have helped Lloyd Weinstein win over locals. If the selection isn't what you're feeling like, check out the Avenue K bar next door. Lloyd knows it never hurts to give the people a few more options.
How has Benjies been able to outlast other restaurants in Orange County?
Great recipes, consistency and family-oriented atmosphere.
I want to know more about Avenue K next door.
It appeals to a younger demographic who enjoys a craft beer selection and trendy atmosphere.
You're making breakfast; what are you having?
Where does the restaurant name come from?
My grandfather Ben on my mother's side.
What's the busiest time of the week to dine there?
Sunday morning through lunch.
Weirdest customer request received:
Chopped liver omelette. Swear to God it's true!
What are you best-sellers on both menus? And what do you recommend for first-timers?
Reuben sandwich; recommend our brisket beef dip, stuffed cabbage omelette and Benjie sandwich.
Our Reuben fritters on the Happy Hour menu served only in Avenue K bar.
What is kreplach?
It's similar to ravioli with a meat filling and served with chicken broth.
Which other family members run the business?
My wife, Noriko, is the bookkeeper, human resources and general manager. Sister Alisa Nicholl is the social media and procurement coordinator.
Your deli case is well-stocked. What do customers tend to buy?
Rye bread, sliced deli meat, pickles, chopped liver and black & white cookies.
Where did you grow up?
Brooklyn until age six, then mostly Tustin and Santa Ana.
Favorite meal growing up.
Mom's Swiss steak and chicken fricassee.
How did you and Noriko meet?
Hardest lesson you've learned.
Happy wife, happy life.
Where are your favorite places to eat?
Long Hai Vietnamese restaurant in Tustin. Great pho and shaken beef.
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Tell us something most people don't know about you.
I have a general contractor license.
What would you like to be doing if you weren't in this industry?
Aircraft mechanic. I spent four years in the military in aircraft and jet engine mechanics, contracting and remodeling.
What anniversary specials can we look forward to?
$5 Corned Beef and Pastrami sandwiches (with one side) on Friday the 6th.
Benjies Deli is located at 1828 N Tustin Ave, Santa Ana, (714) 541-6263; www.benjiesdeli.com.