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. Pennsylvanian. NBA most valuable player 1978. Reformed Deadhead. Available for weddings and bar mitzvahs. (email@example.com)
NICK BONDI, Bar Manager & Beer Programmer, Carpenter
Senior bar manager, beer buyer, and Certified Cicerone. When Iowa spit out Nick they lost a man of many interests – racing crapcan cars, singing in church choir, skiing, and building things out of wood with his bare hands and teeth. He built both Jerry’s bars so had somewhere to rest his elbows. (Surprisingly interesting for a guy from Iowa.) If Butler Bulldog basketball is on TV, service will suffer. Deal with it.
TREY “The Colonel” ELDER, Operations Manager, Whiskey Executor
Enthusiastic (aka annoying) customer in the early days, brought on board for his impressive knowledge and creativity, and have him stop hassling customers in front the store. Stints in the music biz and specialty coffee (Intelligentsia, Stumptown, Metropolis). American whiskey enthusiast, borderline expert, and inductee in 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.
MINDY FRIEDLER, Founder
Jerry’s kindly “mom”, but might she be the one who gives you the stink eye when trying to be seated without a full party? That’s her. Former lawyer, forsaken for the easy hours and big money of the restaurant business. Chicago born and raised, U. of Michigan. Cook and superb baker. House Un American Activities Committee has file on her. Proudest achievement – owning 5% of a Bulls season ticket. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
TOM LOEROP, Andersonville General Manager
Restaurant pro (unlike most of the rest of us), with extensive experience in restaurant management. Long time resident and fan of Andersonville, believing it not safe to venture south of Lawrence. Kind to animals, but not so much children. Professional bingo player. Yikes, another Iowan.
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.