This week, Joelle and Laura are joined by Mindy Friedler, co-owner of FIYA Restaurant. FIYA, which reflects the owner’s love of wood fire, bread and baking, opened quietly in June at 5419 N Clark and is a melting pot of Israeli cuisine, with influences from the Middle East, Europe, and the Mediterranean.
“We went to visit our daughter, and we both fell in love with the food scene in Israel. It was fun and exciting, but with this casual element to it.” – Mindy Friedler
Listen to Episode 107 with Mindy Friedler!
Here are some references from Episode 107 that you may want to check out:
- Mindy, in her past, worked as a lawyer in law firm management, consulting and recruiting, and decided she needed a change in 2002. She decided to help out her husband, Mark Bires, at his restaurant during her in-between careers phase and never left the industry, 18 years later! We interviewed Mark for the podcast episode about Jerry’s back in 2019. Check out Episode 86 here.
- The Jerry’s Sandwiches in Andersonville closed in early 2020 to make way for the FIYA concept. Jerry’s Lincoln Square is still in close proximity to Andersonville, and Mindy and Mark did not want the two restaurants to continue monopolizing one another. They knew they needed a new concept in Andersonville before they landed on the idea of FIYA.
- FIYA’s concept was born from a trip Mindy and Mark took to visit their daughter when she was living in Israel. After falling in love with the casual, outdoor-centric food scene, they decided to forge ahead with an Israeli casual concept, with a menu centered around a wood burning oven. FIYA is named in reference to “fire” and the wood burning oven.
- The wood burning oven is located in the center of the restaurant space, removing the natural blockade that the seating had originally created in the former Jerry’s Andersonville.
- On one side of FIYA, the seating is built around a countertop and high tops, originally intended for diners to get an up-close view to watch the chefs at work. MIndy is hoping they will be able to seat folks here sometime in the fall, or whenever the City deems it safe.
- The blue color of FIYA’s exterior and interior decor evokes a Mediterranean feel, carefully selected by the designer the couple has worked with in the past, but while maintaining much of Jerry’s original structure.
- The chef of FIYA originally did not want to put hummus on the menu, but the hummus is one of the most popular items! All pita is made in house. Mindy also comments on the popularity of the roasted Cauliflower and the Salatim, a variety of small shareable salads. View FIYA menu here.
“All menu items are designed to be shared, which can be a little weird in this time of COVID, but it also works, because groups are dining in their own family pods anyway.”
- Even though Jerry’s is no longer in the space, Mindy and Mark knew they needed to incorporate a few sandwiches on the FIYA menu as well, so guests can enjoy a selection of Pita Sandwiches.
- FIYA is in a lucky position with a large outdoor back patio, already well spaced and distanced. The restaurant facade also has large removable windows in front, so dining inside has also been possible in certain areas.
- The staff is regularly sanitizing, and FIYA has set up QR code menus for ordering. All staff also undergo a temperature check before every shift. Customers are required to wear masks when being seated, and are encouraged to wear them when interacting with any servers and staff.
- There has been a large influx of customers from the Israeli community who have praised the FIYA chef for creating a menu that is so close to that of home.
- FIYA has kept the extensive beer menu known to Jerry’s, but have expanded into offering more natural wines and cocktails. Some of the guest favorites and fun cocktails have been the Mango Mezcal Margarita, Berry Arak Punch, and a Ginger Gin and Tonic. Mindy also thinks the Ga’zoz, or non-alcoholic Isralei Street Soda, are super fun and unique. View the cocktail menu here.
- Right now, FIYA is open every night from 4-9PM, but closed Tuesdays. Lunch is offered on Fridays from 12-3pm and brunch on weekends from 11:30am-3pm.
- FIYA is offering orders for carryout only right now, but meals can be ordered in advance via phone call directly to the restaurant at 312 493-0443.
- Mindy also tells us a little bit more about their brunch menu, particularly the Jerusalem Breakfast platters, which are all created to serve two. Mindy also comments that the Shakshuka, featuring Egg, Salad, Tahina, Pita, has also been super popular. View the brunch menu here.
- If given the chance to change places with an Andersonville business, Mindy would trade places with In Fine Spirits (5418 N Clark) across the street so she could easily solve all of her gifting needs for birthdays, anniversaries, and Father’s Days.
“It was important to us that the same people that came to Jerry’s could still come to FIYA.”