When Jeff & Judes, the modern LA-style Jewish deli in Ukrainian Village debuted in August, it wasn’t at full power. Owner Ursula Siker (Hoosier Mama Pie Company) slowly rolled out offerings via online ordering before closing in October to prepare for a grander relaunch. She used that time to hire and train staff, to add knishes, matzo ball soup, and brisket sandwiches to the menu.
Customers had to be on their toes if they wanted to try Jeff & Judes’ food — online ordering was fast and furious and quickly sold out. Now three months late — and armed with 11 staff members to help bake, brine, butcher, and cure, Jeff & Judes is back with vengeance, a carryout window, and expanded hours.
Siker’s expanded menu hits many Ashkenazi deli must haves: corned beef and pastrami sandwiches (proteins, including lox, are cured on site), a purist’s take on matzo ball soup, potato latkes, and — in a nod to New York deli culture — black & white cookies. But Siker has more contemporary creations up her sleeve, with inventive options like an enormous savory hamantaschen filled with cream cheese, red onion, and dill and coated in “everything” spice.
The new menu also highlights an interesting integration Southern flavors and ingredients — a reference to Siker’s stepmother, the eponymous “Judes,” who is a North Carolina native. These include a sweet potato and pimento cheese knish, and on the brunch menu, a pickle-brined matzo fried chicken sandwich (Martin’s potato bun, zesty pickle chips, American cheese). There are numerous other brunch selections, such as a Canter’s Sunrise tartine (pressed challah, fried egg, bacon, tomato, cheddar), challah cinnamon rolls and doughnuts, and cheddar matzo grits. The bagels are picked up at at 2 a.m. daily from suburban Lincolnwood’s well known New York Bagel and Bialy.
Siker says one of the most complex components of running a pick-up only restaurant is managing ticket times, as workers try to balance food quality and pacing for patrons who may appear at the window unexpectedly. Sometimes, people have to wait. For the most part, she says, diners have been kind and patient.
“When someone’s sitting down at a restaurant, they have drinks, they have ambiance — time doesn’t matter as much,” Siker says. “When you’re standing and staring at a counter for 10 minutes, it feels like 30.”
For the time being, Siker is done with tweaks. As the winter holiday season approaches, Jeff & Judes fans can expect a handful of timely offerings like fried doughnuts for Hanukkah and Christmas-y Fernet gingerbread cookies. Interested parties should keep an eye on the menu via Toast and social media. Siker plans to add delivery via Caviar once the weather grows colder — along with a special section that allows customers to tip staff directly, as third-party apps furnish the entire tip to the driver.
Though she anticipates a shift to full service at some point in a post-pandemic future, the current phase of operations is “pretty much where we’re going to stay for now,” she says. “We’re more of a breakfast and lunch spot in the neighborhood, which lends itself better to carryout.”
Jeff & Judes, 1024 N. Western Avenue, order carryout via Toast or call (773) 661-1227, Open 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday; 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Friday; 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. (brunch) and noon to 4:30 p.m. (lunch) Saturday and Sunday.