The story of Maximillians is a 30-year journey of food, friends and family
If ever there was a laid-back place to enjoy an exquisite meal, it would be Maximillians Grill & Wine Bar. Located in Cary, North Carolina, this unique restaurant is home to an array of regional and international wines and spirits. Here, the cuisine is locally sourced, global in influence, and always made from scratch. Since 1991, the restaurant has been the preferred backdrop for generations of families celebrating milestones. Now, thirty years later, restaurant owners Will and Margie Hennessee celebrate the decades-long history of Maximilians with the community they love.
It Started With a Map
The origin of Maximillian begins with a man from Brooklyn by the name of Michael Sheffer. One day he opened a map and randomly decided that wherever his finger landed, that would be his new home. As fate would have it, he landed in Cary, North Carolina. Shortly after relocating to Cary, Michael and his wife opened Maximillians Grill and Wine Bar. Soon after, Will and Margie began working at the restaurant under Michael’s mentorship. In 2015, the original owners of Maximillians retired and passed the torch to the Maximillians legacy to Margie and Will.
From the front to the back of the house, Will and Margie have been heavily involved in all restaurant operations since day one. “We are literally the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker, accounts receivable, payable, and HR,” explains Margie. In the early days at Maximillians the duty of menu-maker was yet another task on their to-do list. As Margie explains, “we’d handwrite the menu and then take a dollar out of the drawer and walk across the street where there was a copy machine. It was a dime a copy and we would get a dollar’s worth of copies [each time]. Those would be the menus for the night.”
The Scratch-Made Tradition
Years later, Margie has kept many of those old menus and will give them new life to celebrate the restaurant’s milestone anniversary. “We’re doing a series of wine dinners through the decades,” she explains. “In September, we’re going to pull old menus of what we were doing thirty years ago and [serve them again].”
Hundreds of menus have been created throughout the years, each a testament to the owners’ unwavering commitment to preparing fresh, uncompromising cuisine from scratch. “We stay true to the craft and withhold the from-scratch-tradition to this day,” Margie declares. “We’re not going to compromise.” The menu features boldly inventive entrees like the Voodoo Tuna – a Maximillians staple made with seared tuna, fire noodles, Thai chili, ginger, and garlic coconut broth served with cilantro and Thai basil.
Other crowd-pleasers are the grilled Caesar salad and the Korean BBQ beef made with soy marinade, sweet rice, mint, and cilantro served with a Thai basil salad. Despite the recent challenges to the food supply chain, Margie remains committed to serving innovative meals made with only the highest quality ingredients. “[Next week] I’m going to Sysco headquarters to meet with Mike Harris (Executive Chef for Sysco Raleigh) to look at different products and different ways to use them.”
The Sysco Story
Long before Maximillians became a valued Sysco customer, a member of the Sysco team had a connection to the restaurant. Sysco Sales Consultant, Bryan Connelly has been a long-time friend of Will’s for thirty years. “Our sales rep. Brian is the reason we have Maximillians,” says Margie. “He and my husband grew up together, and when they lived in Raleigh at the same time almost 30 years ago now, Brian got [a] job at this little restaurant [where we all worked]…Years down the road, here we are – Brian becomes a sales rep in our territory. It all just circled back.”
To commemorate the restaurant’s monumental anniversary, Maximillians is undergoing a rebrand with the theme “thirty years of fire and knives” – a nod to the grit, tenacity, and spirit that has fueled Margie and Will over the years. Even more meaningful to the couple is the love and support that has been reciprocated in the community they serve. “We’re their family,” proclaims Margie. “There’s just the sense of community [here]. It’s peoples’ safe place. There are families that for 27 years have supported us, and continue to support us. I have an overabundance of gratitude, and what an honor it has been to be a part of [our customers’ lives].”
In a time when the foodservice industry is challenged to exemplify patience and flexibility, Maximillians is rising to the challenges of the day. Margie and Will view the accelerated pace of innovation as an invitation to growth and the dawn of a new era for Maximillians. “We’re headed into the next decade,” says Margie. “That alone is pretty cool.”