We love sandwiches, and we’ve eaten many, from great local ones (like Manny’s, Bari, and Riviera) to Philly cheesesteaks, Pittsburgh hoagies, southern barbecue, New Orleans muffulettas & po boys, New England lobster rolls & fried clam rolls, just about anything from Zingerman’s, French bar sandwiches, Israeli shawarmas, al pastor tacos, and weird, weird restaurant concoctions.
The original Jerry’s, long gone, was 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, a whimsical idea was formed 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 incarnation of Jerry’s had only 5 stools at the front 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 100+ indoors and outdoors, and what was once a much more limited menu has evolved into the beast that it is today, confounding poor suckers who just wander in for a ham and cheese but delighting fans of Jerry’s who make some of the most interesting and abhorrent combinations known to man.
Jerry’s now offers a Bumsteadian lineup of well over 100 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. Factor in the genius to add American craft beer, thereby us possibly 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).
There are two Jerry’s, one in Andersonville and one in nearby Lincoln Square. Are they the same? Are we McDonald’s? The people here are a might peculiar, so expect the unexpected. And we’ve still got things up our sleeve. Brunch, for one. It’s a work in progress.