Grab at stool at Johnny's Grill and it may look like nothing has changed. The sizzling griddle is searing orders of eggs and bacon that get slid across the rose-colored linoleum counter alongside cups of coffee and sides of home fries. There is one key difference: The woman in the kitchen. It's Sarah Jordan, an award-winning pastry chef who hung up her toque to save a dying Logan Square diner.
Jordan took over the nearly 30-year-old diner last year, where she preserved its iconic greasy spoon vibe while adding a bit of Irish flavor as well as a new bar next door (which will transform into Mezcaleria Las Flores later this month). Here, a squad of female chefs, cooks and bartenders turn out flawless flapjacks by the dozen. It's just a typical Saturday during breakfast, which starts at 8 a.m. on the weekends and continues all day.
"We're just a no frills, no fuss breakfast spot," says Jordan, who can be found in the open kitchen most mornings. From her sunny-side up command center, Jordan greets regulars such as Rebecca and Charles while preparing their usual order—avocado toast with an egg on top and Johnnycakes. Or Butch and Joe, a retired State Farm agent and police officer, who have known each other since they were 14-years-old and both favor the eggs benedict.
The tiny kitchen serves about 350 before cooling down. Then the whole process starts over again with burgers and fish 'n' chips for dinner. Check out the Saturday breakfast scene in the photos above.