Saturday, November 2, 2019

Wally's Kosher Deli in the Milk Pail, Lincolnwood, Illinois.

I fondly remember working part-time after High School for "Wally's Deli" in the Milk Pail at 3320 West Devon Avenue, just west of McCormick Boulevard in Lincolnwood, Illinois. Before the Milk Pail, it was Blanche's Super Milk Market.

A bit about Wally Brin's childhood:
November 04,  1941, Chicago Tribune: Crane Tech High Defeats Anundsen in Soccer, 8-0, in a north section Chicago Public High School soccer league game in Winnemac park. Wally Brin, playing center forward, scored four goals for the west siders. It was the fourth win in six games.

May 02, 1942, Chicago Tribune: Wally Brin hit a home run in the last half of the seventh inning after two were out to give Crane H.S. a 12 to 11 victory over Foreman H.S. in Altgeld park. It was Crane's sixth straight win and  left it the only undefeted team in the west section.

October 22, 1942, Chicago Tribune: Wally Brin is the captain of Crane Tech H.S. soccer team. Undefeated Aledo H.S. with only one game to play, clinched at least a share in the Little Six Conference championship last Friday night, October 16, when it downed Avon H.S., 33 to 13. All other conference teams have lost at least one game.

June 03, 1943, Chicago Tribune: Crain Tech H.S., defending west section champion, defeated Steinmetz H.S., 6 to 4, in Altgeld park, cutting Steinmetz's lead in the current race to half a game. Wally Brin caught the first six innings for Crane H.S. and then when to the mound in the seventh, relieving Gene Revell and checked the rally after Steinmetz had scored four runs.
Wally was a minor league baseball player for the Chicago White Sox before he entered the Army. He was an Army MP for three years during WWII.  

Walter "Wally" W. Brin owned the Deli from 1971. In 1976 Wally retired due to illness and passed away on Monday, May 30, 1988. He is interred at Westlawn Jewish Cemetery on Montrose Avenue, Norridge, Illinois.

The family said, "It broke our hearts when we sold this business, but many things change regardless of what you do to make improvements." 

I worked part-time after High School for Wally's Deli in the Milk Pail, which was 5 blocks from my house, for 4 years, most nights but some weekend mornings too.

It was a great job and pay, especially for a high school student. Wally was a great guy to work for. We cooked the best brisket corned beef, 15 
briskets at a time, three days a week, in the back room of the Deli.

We were free to eat anything from the Deli except for the Lox and Smoked Chubs (small white fish), which I ate nearly every night for 4 years. Wally knew! 

Rosen's Rye Bread was delivered into a locked box in the alley behind the building every morning around 4 o'clock. They were so hot that you needed gloves to handle the loaves. 

The top sellers were the 1. Meat, 2. Cheese, 3. Fish, and 4. Vegetable Lazy Susan Trays. The average order was 3 types of trays, feeding anywhere from 30 to 300 or more. Being Kosher, we catered to Synagogue events, Bar & Bat Mitzvahs, Weddings, Funerals, Shiva (a week-long mourning period in Judaism, [aka Wake; non-Jewish]), Family Reunions, Sweet-16 parties, and other special events. We delivered at no cost. 

Wally's made a killer 3-bean salad, chopped chicken liver, lox cream cheese, and many other Jewish favorites that people would drive 20-plus miles to purchase. 

Two summers in a row, Wally found me a part-time day job with one of his restauranteur friends. One was a fast-paced breakfast and lunch sit-down restaurant downtown, which had a deli/sandwich counter where customers lined up outside waiting to order. Another summer job was with the "Bagel Nosh" in the Gold Coast neighborhood on State Street in the Rush Street area. 

You knew he was genuine because Wally was always upbeat, in a good mood, and treated everybody with respect and kindness.

Not to be confused with the Milk Pail Restaurant in Dundee, Illinois. 

Copyright © Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved.
#JewishThemed #JewishLife


  1. My husband and I used to frequent the Milk Pail every Sunday morninng during the first year we were married, August 1989, while living in our first apartment in southeast Evanston. We went for the excellent smoked chubs, cream cheese and bagels. We moved to Des Plaines, IL in September 1990 and that ended our regular visits. Many, many fond memories!

  2. I worked at the milk pail from 1965-1968,when the owner was Art Blanche. Louie Geske was the manager.

    1. I worked there after school off and on from 1968-73-do you remember tom the night manager,ralph and Perry-the day staff and more or Maury who said he worked at the board of trade-joel weissman

  3. I worked at The Milk Pail from 1991 to 1994. The deli and grocery were combined in one operation by then, owned by Steve Brin and his partner Harry Friedman. To this day I tell family members how the tongues and corned beef briskets were cooked (by Norm Drell) in that big cauldron in the back. The place was a social nerve center in those pre-digital days; anything that was happening in the community was sure to be telegraphed there.

    1. During my time at Wally's, we boiled 15 briskets at a time. We had a small steamer at the counter and served hot corned beef or pastrami sandwiches or hot to go.

    2. Yep, the steamer was still there when I was there. I worked 3pm-11pm most days, so I got the job of emptying the water and cleaning everything out. By that time, though, hot pastrami wasn't really done - just corned beef.


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