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Our Team

Steven Abrams

Managing Partner

Born in Providence, RI, Steven grew up in his family’s retail business. It was there that he learned the importance of successful customer service. Steven attended Bentley College in Waltham, MA, which he credits for giving him the business strategies that have been instrumental in his success. A few years after college, Steven left his family business for the restaurant industry. 

After a two-year stint with Tatou Restaurants first in Manhattan and then Aspen, CO, he teamed up with his college roommate, Richard Rosenthal. Steven joined the Max Group as an assistant manager at Max on Main. In 1996, he became a partner and opened Max Downtown in Hartford. Steven is also a partner in Max’s Oyster Bar and Trumbull Kitchen. 

Steven feels his entrepreneurial skills and business practices have earned him a reputation as a leader and innovative manager. He strives daily to exceed his customer’s expectations and motivate his staff to excellence.

Liz Ackerman

Jr. Managing Partner/General Manager

With over thirty years of experience in the Hospitality Industry, Elizabeth (Liz) returns to the place where it all began, Max Downtown. Born and raised in West Hartford, CT, Liz joins the Max Restaurant Group after a brief detour in Dallas, TX. The third time is always the charm and we are thrilled to welcome Liz back to our family where her professionalism, dedication and passion for exceptional dining experiences will be on full display in Connecticut's Capitol City.

Liz currently lives in West Hartford with her husband Brian and their two beautiful children.

Christopher Sheehan

Executive Chef

Born in Manchester, CT., Christopher Sheehan didn’t while away childhood afternoons building forts or pretending to be Superman. He spent them happily cooking over a hot stove in his grandparent’s kitchen.“My grandmother would immediately put me to work when I came over,” Sheehan recalls. “She taught me to love and respect food. It was never to be wasted.”Upon graduating from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I., Sheehan joined Max Downtown, where he sharpened his culinary skills under the tutelage of executive chef Hunter Morton. In 2013, Sheehan received critical acclaim when Max Downtown was named both “Best American Restaurant” by Connecticut Magazine’s Expert Picks, and “Upscale Restaurant of the Year” by the Connecticut Restaurant Association. As a sous chef, Sheehan has made two appearances at the prestigious James Beard House, and his seasonally inspired cooking has garnered high praise from fellow chefs and the top brass for his meticulously executed dishes. “Chris has a quiet intensity that has been a huge part of getting Max Downtown through sales days and weeks, which makes the rest of us sit back and marvel,” says Scott Smith, vice president and COO of Max Restaurant Group. “Not only is Chris a rock star on the line, his food is simply brilliant.” After 12 years of dedicated service, Sheehan is pleased to begin a new career milestone as the executive chef at Max Downtown. 

Jesse Lang

Jesse has been working in the hospitality industry for over twelve years. As a Certified Sommelier, licensed physical therapist, Whisky Ambassador, and a published author of a health and wellness book, Jesse is a modern day Renaissance man. Jesse's passion for beverages, specifically wine and whiskey, paired with his love of delicious cuisine, make him a valuable asset to Max Downtown. He brings enthusiasm, knowledge, and a love for teaching with him every day, which is evident to both his guests and his staff. If you are unsure of which wine to pair with your Salmon, or just have a question about Scotch, Jesse is more than happy to assist you. His prior experiences ranged from Community Table restaurant, a Scandinavian farm-to-table concept in Litchfield County, to American Seasons restaurant in Nantucket. His continual thirst for knowledge and new delicious beverages ensure that both our wine and whiskey lists stay updated and current as trends change. Jesse is more than happy to call Max Downtown his home. 

Justin Gavry

Wine Director
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