Maxwell’s in Islip closes for renovations, and the Lessings have big plans


The Lessings are rooted in Islip.

Dozens of members of the family that own and operate Lessing Hospitality Group have lived in the area for over 80 years.

“I grew up near that old blinking light by South Bay and Maple,” said Michael Lessing, president of the company, which runs restaurants and catering facilities on Long Island, New York City and Florida.

The rest of the Lessing clan were just a few blocks away.

“There was at least 40 of us nearby,” he said.

So where did the family go on most Friday nights?

“We were all regulars at Hutley’s,” Michael said with a smile, remembering one of the only spots to eat on Islip’s Main Street for quite awhile.

In 2007, the Lessings took over their old stomping grounds at 501 Main Street and transformed it into Maxwell’s, a bar and grill for quick drinks and pub fare.

After running it for 15 years, the Lessings have informed that it’s time to switch things up.

“When we opened Maxwell’s, there weren’t a lot of places with a similar menu,” said Michael. “Now there are over a dozen or more similar style menus” on the South Shore.

With the dining scene in neighboring Bay Shore having since exploded, Michael says the family and the company want to help Islip better compete.

“We want to build something that doesn’t exist,” he said. “Something not just for the immediate area, but a larger geographical zone.”

So on Thursday, the Lessings closed the doors at Maxwell’s to make way for its next chapter.

The renovations are now set to begin.

The story continues past this photo

While the owners were tight-lipped on the details, they said the new concept will be more restaurant-focused, as opposed to being a bar.

“We will have elevated food with seasonal fare and bistro classics,” said Jennifer Cantin, the director of marketing for the company, “with a beverage program offering creative cocktails.”

Guy Reuge, the company’s chef emeritus senior advisor, will be working on the new menu.

“I think he is the most talented chef on Long Island,” Michael said of Reuge, who oversees the operations at Sandbar in Cold Spring Harbor and Mirabelle Restaurant and Tavern in Stony Brook.

The plans are to open the restaurant sometime this fall.

The company will release more information as it gets closer to opening. Check back with for more details as they emerge.

Michael, who still lives in Islip, promises it’ll be something the whole town could be proud of.

“The town has changed a lot over the years,” said Michael. “We believe it’s time now to come back with a new concept to reenergize not just Maxwell’s, but to reenergize the town.”

The Lessing family inside of Maxwell’s ahead of its renovations. From L-R, Michael Lessing Sr., Michael Lessing Jr., Mark Lessing, Schmiddy Lessing and Greg Lessing. (Credit: Marisa Rupolo/Lessings)

Top: Micheal Lessing Sr. with Rick Bartlett of BAR Architecture inside of Maxwell’s.