Lehman's Deli started out in 1983 selling only fresh-pressed cider and a small selection of sandwiches. Over the years, owner George Bagsarian has added to his Westlake shop, turning it into a popular takeout spot known for its sandwiches and soup. This month, Bagsarian expands again by adding a bakery and a sit-down area for his loyal fan base. “We know our customers. We know so many of their names, we know their children, we know their sports teams,” he says. “And they know us.” Here’s three things you need to know about the West Side staple. 24961 Detroit Road, Westlake, 440-871-3445, lehmansdeli.com
Sweet Designs: After having success selling house-made brownies and cookies, Bagsarian decided to lease the vacant space next-door to use as a bakery. Customers can find freshly made croissants, along with a variety of cake and yeast doughnuts and other treats (think fruit kolachy). Bagsarian partnered with Lisa Wheller, the baker and owner of SugarFixCLE, on a menu that uses many of her family’s longtime recipes. “It’ll be a little bit of everything,” says Wheller. “We’re going to do breads, we’re going to do pastries, croissants, cakes, cookies. You name it.”
Seat check: In its 36 years, Lehman’s had lacked one crucial ingredient: seating. By adding the bakery space, Lehman’s also gained spots for high-top tables, making room for about 30 guests to sit down and enjoy their food. A second-floor conference room area gives larger groups options to hold meetings, hang out or host events. “Our customers would always say, ‘I love coming here but I wish I could eat here. I wish I could sit down and eat,’ ” says Bagsarian.
Expansion plan: Lehman’s square footage isn’t the only thing that’s been amped up. With more than 100 sandwich options (try the pastrami Reuben) and a stellar soup game (faves include a tangy pickle soup, a refreshing strawberry coconut soup and of course, the much-loved chicken paprikash), Bagsarian and his staff push themselves to offer new and fun items all the time. They’re currently experimenting with dishes such as ahi tuna bowls and Buddha bowls. “We do too much stuff. We’ll look at each other and say, ‘We have too much going on,’ and then we’ll look at it and say, ‘Well that’s why people come here,’ ” says Bagsarian.