Schmaltz Deli in lease talks to expand to Wheaton

  • Schmaltz Deli, a nearly 15-year-old mainstay in Naperville, is looking to expand to Wheaton.

      Schmaltz Deli, a nearly 15-year-old mainstay in Naperville, is looking to expand to Wheaton. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

Updated 8/30/2019 4:11 PM

There are a few things you can expect with your order at Schmaltz Deli in Naperville.

The Jewish deli somehow packs a mouthwatering mountain of pastrami and corned beef into the sandwiches, always served with an equally generous slice of sour pickle and complimentary bagel chips.


But what also makes the deli so familiar is the behind-the-counter spectacle, starting with the "Welcome to Schmaltz" from sharp-witted servers who clip and throw ticket orders down a kind of zip line.

So when regulars hear that Schmaltz is looking to expand, everyone wants to know whether the deli will re-create the menu and the atmosphere in a possible new location in downtown Wheaton.

"You're still going to have that circus and the banter back and forth with the employees," said Michael Goodman, director of operations.

The owners of Schmaltz and a downtown building across from the Wheaton Metra station are in the midst of lease negotiations. And while the lease talks aren't "100 percent completed," Schmaltz hopes to secure an agreement to open an express version of the nearly 15-year-old Naperville deli in early 2020, Goodman said.

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"For all intents and purposes, we are actively going through the formalities to have a lease, hopefully an agreement sometime shortly," he said.

Schmaltz is eying a corner tenant space that previously housed Caribou Coffee and later OMG Cafe at Front and West streets. It's too early to say whether a lease also would allow Schmaltz to use empty neighboring spaces in the building.

If everything goes as planned, Schmaltz knows the Wheaton concept would cater to Metra commuters with quick service, bagels and coffee, soups, baked goods and other grab-and-go items.

"It will differentiate from the Naperville store slightly in being geared more toward a fast-service model," Goodman said.

There may be a more limited menu for lunch, but patrons would be able to get their fix of corned beef and pastrami. "That's what everybody wants," said Goodman, who grew up in Naperville.


Schmaltz already has a presence in Wheaton at the downtown French market. For almost two months, the deli has primarily offered bagels and cream cheeses at a weekend smearing station. More recently, the deli started bringing cold sandwiches to the open-air market on a trial basis.

"Every week we get more positive responses," Goodman said.

Just as buzzy? The news of a potential Wheaton location, already well-received by customers who come to Schmaltz from north of Naperville.

"We want to engage with the community and be positive reinforcement back into it," Goodman said.

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