The Winonan

Beno’s Deli: Profile on a local shop

Zachary Bailey, Editor-in-Chief

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The bell above the door gave a little ring as Paul Lundquist, a Winona resident for the past 14 years, walked through the doors of Beno’s Deli’s quaint downtown location. He turned and made his way over to the counter to order his usual, a Dutch Treat.

The counter worker looked up, gave a quick smile and greeted her new customer.

“No green stuff except a pickle, right, Paul,” the employee asked.

Lundquist nodded, and then paid for his sandwich. He turned the corner and walked over to the row of booths set against the wall.

“It’s Beno’s,” Lundquist said, after being asked why he first started eating here. “I came to town and everyone said I had to eat here, it’s just kind of a local institution.”

According to their official website, Beno’s Deli, which has been considered a Winona staple since its opening in 1984, was originally located in Lake City, Minnesota, with another location in Red Wing, Minnesota. Both were owned by Ron and Joan Shimbeno, where the name of “Beno’s” originally came from. After multiple years in business, both locations closed before Darlene Russell, a friend of the Shimbeno’s, opened the Winona location.

“The chain sandwich places are ok, but you don’t get the same quality and service [as at local restaurants],” Lundquist said. “It’s one of the benefits of eating and shopping local.”

Out of the three original locations, only the downtown Winona location was left. That is, until Corinne Loomis, who bought the store in 2014, took control of things.

Loomis had been a fan of Beno’s since she was young, and loved being able to watch the business move forward, as well as decide where she would like to take things.

“The clientele has changed a little, mostly people who work downtown, but lots of things have stayed the same,” Loomis said. “We still have the original menu from when the Winona location first opened, and we’ve tried to update the building by doing things like painting, but I like the old-time charm and history. I don’t want to make it ultra-modern, that’s not what Beno’s is.”

The one major change the business has gone through, however, is the recent addition of a second location in the Winona Mall.

According to Loomis, the plans had been going off and on for about a year, and she had been approached by multiple customers that she should talk to the owner of the Winona Mall.

“I talked with [the owner of the Winona Mall] for months, then got the opinion of my husband, mom and fellow workers and discussed if we could make it work,” Loomis said. “In the end, we decided to just do it.”

With the wheels turning to open their second location, different pieces started falling into place, as well as the appearance of new options.

Wine of the Bean, which had previously occupied the space in the Winona Mall now occupied by the new Beno’s Deli location, was open during the early morning hours each day. The downtown location of Beno’s, however, is notorious for only being open from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Monday-Saturday. With a new location also came the option of a new set of hours.

“Wine of the Bean opened early each day so that other employees in the mall could get coffee as their businesses were opening, so we decided to take over the coffee part and hours of the location and just incorporate sandwiches as well,” Loomis said.

The Winona Mall has been a location for the past decade that seems to have trouble keeping stores for an extended period of time, but Loomis believes that Beno’s is there to stay.

“[Wine of the Bean] struggled with staffing and quick products, [the location] needed a well-established business that could get people in and out quickly,” Loomis said. “We tried being open later at the downtown location in the past, but it didn’t always work, so we decided to give it a whirl out here.”

Over 30 years, three buildings and one new location since first opening its doors in Winona, Beno’s continues to be one of the local staples for a bite to eat.

“We’ve been around since 1984, so now we’re starting to get children and grandchildren of people who were here at the beginning,” Loomis said. “Alumni from Winona State come with kids and order the same thing they always used to get, and they all tell me how everything is ‘just how we remember it.’”

After having gone through the recent addition, Beno’s currently has no further plans for the future.

“Now we’re going to try to perfect what we’ve got,” Loomis said.

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