Food with Soul
Who Are We?
We're Mindy Friedler and Mark Bires. Yep, we're a couple. One of us is smarter than the other, and better looking too, but we have divergent opinions on that. With three food establishments now, maybe we qualify as a group or company. If not, it's fun to say. We've been doing this for a while, but neither of us grew up in the business so we've been figuring it out as we go along. In the early days, we went too fast and were cocky. This business is hard, so now we're more measured, maybe more inclined to smell the roses. We pretty much have no thoughts beyond what we're doing now (but we're are doing a lot). Maybe an urge will strike us at some point to expand the empire, but we like the idea of making things that last so we're happy focusing on this.
We cleverly say we offer "food with soul" because #1 it's clever, and #2 we like to work with what we really believe in, mostly keeping it simple and approachable. It's food we grew up with, or maybe will in another lifetime. And a common theme in what we do is that we like bread and baking. Jerry's Sandwiches is obviously enough centered around bread. And Geraldine's is a bakery at heart. And now our new thing, Fiya, revolves around fresh-baked pita from a wood-burning bread oven. Not sure how this all jives with modern dietary trends, but there is something timeless to it.
What we don't believe in is cooking only for rich folks. Food is social and communal. It's everyday existence and it's a tie that binds. We're not adverse to a splurge, but there a point past which it's just food art, and we don't have a lot of interest in that. In our opinion, it really isn't possible to make something better tasting than a good tomato sauce.
Jerry's Sandwiches. This was our first and our "hey let's make anything and put it on bread" idea. It opened in 2002. At one point we had 100 named sandwiches, but that became unwieldy so today we've slimmed down a lot, with burgers, specials, and salads. As we always say, it's a work in progress, even 18 years later.
Geraldine's. This is Jerry's little sister, next door on Lincoln Avenue. Geraldine's offers a serious coffee & tea program paired with house baking and cooking. There's a lot of baking talent within, so we're pondering what's next. Geraldine's makes the desserts for Jerry's, and collaborates here and there likely soon for the restaurant below. It too is a work in progress.
Fiya. Fiya is our collage of neighborhood spots in Israel, revolving around a wood-burning oven turning out fresh pita and many other dishes. Fiya comes to it's cuisine through the lens of the Israeli melting pot, while recognizing that its lineage is profoundly Arab, Palestinian, Kurdish, African, and that of other Levantine cuisines, among still other parts of the world. We aspire to honor the heritage of the food and to welcome all to the restaurant, especially the wonderful diversity that is Andersonville.
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Here and there in Chicago, IL