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Dave’s Dives: Jeri’s Grill

Vickie Curtis is long-time waitress Jeri's Grill 4357 N. Western. | Dave Hoekstra~Sun-Times

Vickie Curtis is a long-time waitress at Jeri's Grill, 4357 N. Western. | Dave Hoekstra~Sun-Times

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Updated: October 7, 2013 12:13PM

The formica counter tells the story of Jeri’s Grill.

The Lincoln Square corner diner celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

Frank DiPiero owns the 24-hour diner. His father, Anice, opened the restaurant, across the street from Welles Park at 4357 N. Western. He died 13 years ago.

So why is it called Jeri’s?

“It is a mystery to customers, the people who work here,” he says. “My sister’s name was Gerri Ann. But my Dad named it with a ‘J’ because he thought people would say ‘Gary.’ He had a lot of businesses he named after us. There has not been a lot of change. It’s like it was 50 years ago. You find all walks of life here. There will be a man in a suit, there will be a homeless person.”

The boomerang counter seats 15. DiPiero, 46, says, “A night cook told me 10 years ago, ‘Don’t ever change the counter top. People like that.’ He was right.”

Jeri’s appreciates individuality. The diner does not have a television set, but it has a jukebox. “People come here to talk,” DiPiero says. “People come here to listen.”

A house favorite is the “Jailhouse Special” (fried bologna with two eggs, hashbrowns and toast, $4.75), because it is popular in prisons. The sign behind the counter says a quart of “chile” can be had for $7. No one bothers to change the spelling. Maybe they are fans of Chilean writer Pablo Neruda.

Jeri’s Grill, after all, is urban poetry in motion.

Dave Hoekstra

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