An employee of Max’s Kosher Cafe in Wheaton is still hospitalized but in stable condition after he was stabbed during an altercation outside the restaurant yesterday afternoon.
According to a patron who was at the restaurant at the time of the incident, manager Harold Burke was first called to the register by a female cashier when a man became agitated that he could not order food without paying first. “She went to get the manager and asked him to stay with her because she was uncomfortable,” said the patron, a Kemp Mill resident who asked that her name not be used to protect her privacy. She described the man as “a tall, Black, slim but well-built guy.”
This outburst of violence occurred less than 24 hours after The Shalom Group announced that Max’s will be closing on July 28, although there is interest in reopening the restaurant elsewhere. The Shalom Group owns Max’s, grocery store Shalom Kosher, and Signature Catering.
“We have had the privilege to serve the community since 1994 when we opened Max’s,” began the statement from The Shalom Group’s Max, Larry and Justin Dekelbaum. “Our falafel and shawarma turned us into a popular destination and gave us opportunities at FedEx Field and Nat’s Park.”
The Dekelbaums expressed gratitude to the restaurant’s loyal patrons. “We have been extremely lucky to have such a long history of serving the community,” they wrote.
“We have worked tirelessly over the past few years to move Max’s. We were given the opportunity to move closer to the community; however, due to conditions beyond our control, we are not able to relocate. If the right opportunity arose, we would welcome the idea of reopening.”
Statements of disappointment and support from community members on social media at the news of the impending closure mixed with expressions of alarm and concern after news of Burke’s stabbing spread.
When Max’s first opened, “we were pretty thrilled we didn’t have to go to Baltimore to get burgers and fries,” said Jay Marcus, a Kemp Mill resident, via Messenger. “The fact it had schwarma meant people from Baltimore came down here, because Baltimore didn’t have that yet.”
David Goodman, another Kemp Mill resident and a lifelong Max’s customer, expressed sadness at news of the restaurant’s impending closure. “[I have] such great memories as a kid watching Momi [a member of Max’s staff] make me a great schwarma or falafel, then finishing it as quickly as I could so I could try to get the high score on the soccer video game,” he said via Messenger. “Momi knew everyone’s order by heart. You didn’t even need to tell him what you wanted.”
It’s the end of an era, he concluded.