Longtime Lexington restaurateur Max Flannery, of Loudon Square Buffet, has died

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Raymond Max Flannery, who for nearly 50 years ran Max’s Loudon Square Buffet in Lexington, died Friday morning at Baptist Health, his son said. He was 84.

Flannery had operated Max’s Loudon Square Buffet since 1974, when he took it over from Clay Wallace, and he continued working every day until he was hospitalized in March, said his son, Hubert Max Flannery, who also goes by the name Max. The restaurant, at 801 North Broadway, closed in April, as the family was no longer able to keep it running.

Until that time, Flannery was there 365 days a year, serving up homestyle favorites such as fried chicken, corn bread, pinto beans and banana pudding.

Flannery’s son said in April that the restaurant was “my dad’s entire life’s work, his passion, his hobby, his career. It’s everything to my dad.

“He is what made the restaurant.”

“My dad was literally there 7 days a week, at least 12 hours a day,” he said. “It was his life.”

In 2016, when he was 78 years old, Flannery told a Herald-Leader reporter that he was still working 85 hours a week.

“It’s an experience to eat my food,” he said. “People rave about it.”

Max Flannery rang up a customer at Loudon Square Buffet in Lexington, Ky, on Aug. 24, 2016. Flannery served locals at the buffet from 1974 to 2022, 365 days a year.
Max Flannery rang up a customer at Loudon Square Buffet in Lexington, Ky, on Aug. 24, 2016. Flannery served locals at the buffet from 1974 to 2022, 365 days a year.

His son said the restaurant had longtime customers who ate there every day for decades.

“There was a time when that place was bustling with life, and life from all corners,” he said in the April interview. “That’s what been great you could go in there and see a governor, a professional wrestler, homeless person, IBM employees, people from the Hope Center … every imaginable walk of life any day of the week.

“All welcome. That’s the genius of what my father built, it’s a community center.”

Flannery, who was born in 1938, grew up in Travelers Rest in Owsley County but came to Lexington sometimes in the summers to work with his uncle in a local restaurant, his son said.

After high school, he worked in Ohio for a short time before coming back to Lexington, where he worked at another of Clay Wallace’s restaurants and managed Catalina Restaurant before taking over operation of Loudon Square Buffet, according to his son.

In the 1980s, Flannery also had a booming catering business, and “sometimes he would do all-nighters” to keep everything running, his son said.

“He was a beautiful person, and he loved feeding people,” he said.

Flannery was married for more than 50 years to Sandy Crutcher Flannery and was an army veteran, according to his obituary. Aside from his wife and son, Flannery is survived by three grandchildren.

A private family service will be conducted later, according Kerr Brothers Funeral Home.

Liver and mashed potatoes were among the buffet options as Max Flannery swapped out an empty food tray.
Liver and mashed potatoes were among the buffet options as Max Flannery swapped out an empty food tray.

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