Your Schaefer’s “Grand Crew”

Schaefer’s has been a Chicagoland tradition since 1936 because of its incredible selection, competitive prices, unmatched expertise, and superlative customer service (for a short history of Schaefer’s, click here).

Schaefer’s isn’t just a place, nor just goods and services. The people make it unique. No other store is as old as we are, and no other store has such an experienced staff. Many on Schaefer’s team have been here for a decade or two. In a small retail business, that kind of longevity and loyalty is almost unparalleled. Is it the wine? Perhaps, but it’s also people who derive a great satisfaction from providing the unequaled service Schaefer’s offers its customers.

Bill Graham, Owner & Anje Schaefer Cluxton, President

The tradition of family ownership remains with Schaefer’s. Bill Graham, the owner since 2009, is a Chicago North Shore native and a multi-generation Schaefer’s customer.

Anje is the third generation of Schaefer to lead the business. She graduated from Regis University, in Denver, in 1997, with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and business administration, and, in 1998, she received her master’s degree in business administration. She joined her father, George, and her aunt Gene at Schaefer’s in 1999.

After so many years spent crunching numbers, she spent the fall of 1999 crunching Gewurztraminer grapes and learning the ins and outs of winemaking on an internship at Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley Vineyards.

Anje enjoys skiing and traveling, but likes being in Chicago during the warm-weather months so she can take in as many Cubs games as possible. Anje, husband Nathan, daughters Betty, Heidi & Jenny, live a stone’s throw from Schaefer’s.

Mick Ter Haar, Beverage Director/Sommelier – Since 2009

A 2012 interview with Mick

Mick’s our Beverage Director. He has responsibility for a full range of beverages, including a strong spirits background from his 25 years of experience. Mick served as the Beverage Director at Blanchard’s Red Lion in Boulder in the late 80’s. In the mid-90’s, he moved to Vail where he was surrounded by renowned chefs at such restaurants as Sweet Basil and Larkspur. It was also at this time that he earned his Sommelier Certificate. In early 2002, Mick moved to Chicago to assist leading operations at Smith and Wollensky Steak House. His passion is to travel the world, eat, drink, meet people and enjoy their stories. Mick’s recent wine travels include Tuscany, Piedmont, California’s Central Coast and Oregon’s “Pinot Camp,” Israel, and northern France.

Dan Madden, General Manager – Since 1979

Christened Daniel Patrick, I was the seventh and last child born to James and Virginia Madden in July 1959. I was raised in Wilmette and attended St. Joseph Catholic School and New Trier West High School, in Northfield (Class of 1977). Given all the time I had spent cruising with my buddies, when I was 16 and 17, I knew the streets of the North Shore like the back of my hand. So the delivery department job at Schaefer’s seemed tailor-made. Before long, I was promoted to delivery department manger. After several moving violations and minor traffic accidents, George Schaefer figured it was the quickest way to get me off the streets. Ultimately I became Schaefer’s events and party planner, a job I’ve been able to hold onto because it’s one that I truly enjoy.

Mary Liliedahl, Food Director – Since 1993

No one who visits our food department comes away without meeting Mary, who manages the department and is one of the store managers. She likes the fast pace and the camaraderie at Schaefer’s. Customers look to Mary for her ideas and her quick, no-nonsense solutions to their entertaining challenges. Need appetizers for 60 people in an hour? A picnic basket to impress a first date? A hostess gift for an impossible-to-please potential in-law? Let Mary help. She also has a talent for enabling her customers to entertain with hassle-free confidence, providing do-it-yourself advice on everything from a wine-and-cheese tasting to helping decipher oddball recipes with hard-to-find ingredients. Mary shares a passion for food that is rivaled by very few people. It may have to do with growing up in a large family, but Mary enjoys cooking on her days off for her family, and spends spare time researching ingredients for special meals. But we all have passions outside our first love, and for Mary it’s fishing. Mary is also our authority on all things Iberian: foods, wines, culture and bullfighters.

Brian Flannery, Key Account Manager – Since 1992

Having grown up in the area, he was a regular customer for years before deciding to help out over the Christmas season in 1992. Says Brian, “You’d think the last place a person would want to be during the holidays is in a retail situation, but Schaefer’s is so unique, and the customers are so great, and so loyal, it’s been a very rewarding experience for me all these years. The fun thing about working at Schaefer’s is that, eventually, you bump into everybody, especially during the holidays. Some are old friends from long ago, and others are the people you work with throughout the year, who have become old friends.”

Brian attended New Trier High School East and immediately got involved in the performing arts. In college Brian worked behind the scenes, and seemed to find his niche aiming the spotlights instead of standing in front of them. He attended Drake University in Des Moines and majored in English literature, film and theater, and discovered Steinbeck, Keaton and Shakespeare.

These early interests have stayed with him all these years, and seem to tie in perfectly with his current interest in wine. “Whether you’re talking about a film you’ve just seen or a wine you’ve just tasted, the basic way you analyze it is as much how it affects you personally as it is what the creator was trying to convey. Then every time you go back you see something more.”

Favorite wines? “Too hard to narrow it down, but I am a Bonny Doon groupie, and fascinated by Rhône grapes from all over.”

Eli Robinson, Delivery Supervisor – Since 1993

Eli sees more parties and weddings in a week than most of us see in a lifetime. He’s the head of our delivery department, and he’s the one who makes sure all the libations for your event get there on time and in one piece.

Eli might not be the employee who’s been here the longest, but he was the youngest to start. At age 15 he began as a warehouse worker during the 1993 Christmas season.

Eli lives in Evanston and enjoys playing basketball and football with friends. We think he also writes poetry, but he won’t show anybody.

Paul Downs, Foodie – Since 2007

My passion for food started with my first job working in the rectory at Queen of All Saints in Chicago. My first exposure to Schaefer’s was at Loyola Academy when one of my friends started working in the stock department – little did I know that I would be here a decade later. While attending Marquette University I worked at an Italian restaurant.  I was hooked. In order to work with food and wine, I managed the kitchens at Sauce night club and Witt’s Chicago; and eventually worked as Head Chef at 404 Wine Bar. Over the past ten years I’ve developed an extensive knowledge of coffee, tea, beer, spirits, food and cheese.

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Vee Buranasiri, Wine & Resident Chef – (1992-1995) & Since 2012

Vee was born and raised in a small town called Chicago. In 1992, while studying Culinary arts at Kendall College in Evanston, Vee wanted to learn more about food and wine and worked at Schaefer’s for the next 2-1/2 years.  After graduating, he worked at the Park Hyatt hotel, had his own restaurant, catering company, and became, and still is, a personal chef. Eighteen years later, he is thrilled to back where it all started! Through his culinary travel adventures, he spent close to a year in Europe. He learned the classic methods and techniques of the European cuisines of France, Switzerland, and Italy. He also learned to appreciate the finesse of old world wines and how they meld with the regional cuisine. Working in New Orleans, he developed a fondness for the south and dedicates parts of his summer to civil war re-enactments!

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Kate Jackiw- Wine, Since 2007

After leaving a career with the Federal Government, Kate decided to pursue her interest in wine by taking classes and looking for a part time position in the business. As a long time Evanston resident, she knew the logical place to go was Schaefer’s! Wine has been an interest since college days when she studied French and spent time in Paris where enjoying wine is integral to enjoying life.

Byron Wilson, Baron of the Beer Aisle – Since 1990

Byron Wilson is one of Schaefer’s friendliest faces. Having celebrated his 94th birthday, Byron is a vital part of all our storewide events. Byron graduated from Evanston Township High School in 1938, and was drafted into the army in 1941. He quickly established his leadership ability and spent 27 months at Camp Wolters (Texas) as a drill instructor. Byron landed on Utah Beach in 1944 and spent 16 months in Europe.

Jackie Boyer, Wine Consultant– Since 2014

After college, Jackie moved from her small Indiana town to master the restaurant world. As General Manager, she learned to love fine wine and craft beer. But eight years later, Napa, California called her name to learn even more about the wine industry – and in a flash, she was on her way. While in Napa, she worked at one of the best wineries in the world – Joseph Phelps Vineyards. For the next two years she gained a great sense for both local California wines and wines from around the world. Before coming back to Chicago in 2013, Jackie learned to home brew from a colleague and immediately fell in love with the process. Since then, she has brewed over 50 beers and continues to improve her process while working and assisting customers

Jackquelynn (Jackie) Orellana, Deli- Since 2012

Jackie is a first generation city girl, born and raised on the north side of Chicago to parents who came from Guatemala in the 1960s. Jackie grew up surrounded by a family who loves to entertain and feed their guests – a house full of good cooks. Jackie sure knows how to throw a party! Jackie joined our Food Department in 2012. She immediately made an impact on our customers and staff. Jackie loves a challenge. She handles everything that comes at her energetically, efficiently and most of all cheerfully! Lucky for us, in addition to having extensive experience in all things cheese and charcuterie, Jackie is also one of our resident beer geeks. Stop in and chat about Jamon Iberico and the latest local brews.