We love sandwiches, and we’ve eaten our share from Philly cheesesteaks, Pittsburgh hoagies, southern barbecue, New Orleans po boys & muffalettas, Maine lobster & fried clam rolls, Zingerman’s, Parisian bar sandwiches, Tel Aviv Sephardic goodness, Mexico City hipster fare, and odd restaurant concoctions.
The original Jerry’s, dearly departed, 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, we had a whimsical notion 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. 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”, and as an homage to our old pal Jerry Garcia.
That original Jerry’s had only 5 stools at the 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 many more and what was once a much more limited menu has evolved into the beast that it is today, confounding poor suckers who wander in for a ham sandwich but delighting our fans.
Jerry’s now offers a Bumsteadian lineup of sandwiches including named creations, burgers, sausages, hickory-smoked stuff, grilled cheeses, and rotating collection of specials. In addition, we allow customers “in the know” to create their own sandwiches by mixing and matching. Yikes. Factor in the genius to add American craft beer, thereby allegedly inventing the combination of a sandwich and a beer. Is a Nobel Prize forthcoming? Also, if you pay attention, you’ll hear music from a massive, digital, house collection of mostly roots music (which covers a lot of ground).
And we’ve still got things up our sleeve. Jerry’s is and has always been a work in progress.