Jerry’s Sandwiches will not reopen in Andersonville, as its owners have plans for a new restaurant in the space. Fiya will serve modern Arabic and Israeli food in the same vein as Lincoln Park’s smash hit Galit. The new restaurant should open in April or May, according Jerry’s co-owner Mindy Friedler.
“The people who love Jerry’s should know it will have a lot of the same feeling and spirit,” Friedler said. “This is a very social food.”
Friedler (who is Jewish) and husband Mark Bires (who is not) closed the Andersonville branch of Jerry’s in January at 5419 N. Clark Street. Jerry’s has a length history around town. A nearby Lincoln Square location continues to operate. Jerry’s also had a Wicker Park location that closed in 2016. The original West Loop spot debuted in 2002. Named for Grateful Dead frontman Jerry Garcia, the menu features an eclectic selection of sandwiches and a deep craft beer list.
But running multiple locations was part of the reason to close.
“We made the decision some time ago to close Jerry’s Andersonville permanently, coming to recognize that Jerry’s isn’t meant to be a chain and we were not meant to be owners of a chain,” Friedler’s statement read. “It’s not in our hearts or skillset.”
Now they’ll focus on Fiya. Friedler and Bires’s daughter lives in Tel Aviv and holds dual American-Israeli citizenship. She moved there two and a half years ago after going through Birthright Israel. Fiya will approach good from “an Israeli lens” finding inspiration from Palestine, Persia, Morocco, Iraq, Tunisia, Lebanon, and Syria. Don’t be surprised to eventually see some Ashkenazi items pop up, too. Friedler didn't want to specify menu items, but did say they’ll focus on breads other than pita, like laffa. Another nugget is Israeli-celebrity chef Eyal Shani inspired ownership. Last year, Shani opened a New York restaurant.
Friedler has hired Israeli chef Liad Rozgovich to operate the wood-burning oven and wood smoker in the kitchen. Pastries will come from Eileen Kerbel. She’s the baker at Jerry’s and neighboring coffeeshop Geraldine’s Cafe. Friedler said this of interviewing Rozgovich: “I needed a chef who felt this food in his soul.”
They’ve removed Jerry’s center wall, where the booths and fireplace were, and have replaced it with the hearth. Friedler said they’ll build seating around the oven for an interactive experience. Beer will continue to be a focus at the space, but Friedler said they may pare down the 50 draft beers and give other draft drinks a chance to shine. Still, Friedler feels beer will go well with their menu. When Fiya opens, they’ll focus on dinner with a late-afternoon happy hour. Friedler intends to add brunch and lunch.
Stay tuned for updates.
Fiya, 5149 N. Clark Street, planned for an April or May opening.