Mark Bires, Founder
Beloved, inspirational leader, original chef and god of fire, tech guru, master of finance, and all around pain in the ass. Long time food guy and graduate of the U. of Chicago. NBA most valuable player 1978. Reformed Deadhead. Available for weddings and bar mitzvahs.
Nick Bondi, Bar Manager, Beer Programmer, Millworker, Handyman
Nick is our soon-to-be-Cicerone and purchases all of our beer that he drinks. When Iowa spit out Nick they lost a man of many interests. Outside of Jerry’s you may find him racing crapcan cars, singing in a church choir, snow skiing or building things out of wood with his bare hands and teeth. He even built both of our bars since he needed somewhere to rest his elbows. If a Butler Bulldog Basketball game is on TV, your service from him will suffer. Deal with it.
Alayne Cairns, Office Manager & CFO
Alayne has been in the restaurant biz for over 10 yrs. After travel and some time in the dessert (AZ) she landed in Chicago. She came up thru the Jerry’s ranks and stopped when she could sit in a chair all day. She also fell in love at here and is getting married soon. We’ve learned it’s best not to upset her since she signs most of the checks. Unfortunately she’s still a Detroit Lions fan.
Trey “The Colonel” Elder, General Manager, Whiskey Executor, Pres-O-Dent of Music/Events/Social Media
Enthusiastic customer in the early days, brought on board for his impressive knowledge and creativity, and get him to stop hassling customers in front the store. Stints in the music biz and specialty coffee (Intelligentsia, Stumptown, Metropolis). American whiskey enthusiast, borderline expert, and recently inducted in to the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels. Frequently utters “I do declare”. Has inspired many of staff, male and female, to grow beards. Is a joy to be around, except for when he isn’t.
Michael Dziedzic, Mixologist
Sarah Heintz, Executive Chef
Tom Loerop, General Manager
We love sandwiches, and we’ve eaten many, from great deli sandwiches (Chicago, like Manny’s, Bari, and Riviera) to Philly cheesesteaks, Pittsburgh hoagies, southern barbecue, New Orleans muffulettas & po boys, New England lobster rolls & fried clam rolls, just about anything from Zingerman’s, French baguette bar sandwiches, Israeli shawarmas, al pastor tacos, and weird, weird restaurant concoctions. Long ago, with dead space at the front of a catering kitchen, we thought we’d try a twist on a traditional sandwich shop. And figuring that it would be a deli (a thought that didn’t survive the first week), we choose the solid deli name of “Jerry’s”, really an homage to only the greatest guitar player of all time – Jerome John Garcia.
Jerry’s offers a Bumsteadian lineup of well over 100 sandwiches, including named creations, warm sandwiches, burgers, hickory-smoked stuff, and rotating collection of specials. In addition, we allow customers “in the know” to create their own sandwiches by mixing and matching. And we’ve become a bar, featuring many (and only) North American craft beers as well as a growing collection of American whiskeys. Rounding out the excess, Jerry’s offers some fine music from a digital database of tens of thousands of songs, that is when we’re not offering live music at Wicker Park.
The original Jerry’s (now dearly departed) was opened on Madison Street in 2002 at the front of a catering kitchen. With the rent paid and the former West Loop skid row neighborhood gentrifying, a whimsical idea was formed to open an edgy sandwich shop serving ersatz restaurant entrees, obscure regional stuff, and basically anything else on bread, and calling it a sandwich. In a nutshell, the idea was that if you’ve got pot roast, bread, and some Louisiana hot sauce, you’ve got yourself a heck of a sandwich.
That original incarnation of Jerry’s had only 5 stools at the front window, but by the end of the first day the office table and chairs had been commandeered and in short order storage space was demolished to make room for more seating. Present day Jerry’s seats 100-200 indoors and outdoors, and what was once a much more limited menu has evolved into the beast that it is today, confounding poor suckers who just wander in for a ham and cheese but delighting the Jerry fans who make some of the most interesting and abhorrent combinations known to man. Factor in the genius to add American craft beer, thereby possibly inventing the combination of a sandwich and a beer (yet no Nobel Prize nominations have been forthcoming?).
There is a Jerry’s in Wicker Park and Andersonville, with possibly a third in the works. Are they the same? Are we McDonald’s? The people here are a might peculiar, so expect the unexpected. And we’ve still got things up our sleeve. It’s a work in progress.
Chicago Reader Best Sandwich 2014 (and ’11 and ’12 and ’13):
CBS Chicago, Best Sandwiches:
Travel Channel Sandwich Paradise 2:
Chicagoist Best Bloody Mary:
NPR, Sandwich Monday: The Ignatius:
Draft Mag, Chicago is Beertown USA:
Forbes, Fireside Dining and Drinking:
Getaway Hostel, Chicago’s Best Sandwiches:
Thrillist, Chicago’s Best Karaoke for Original Rap Karoake:
Major Onions, Nick Bondi (Manager, Beer Buyer) Bartender of the Month