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Wicker Park, Bucktown, West Town

‘Nono’s Deli’ Food Truck To Serve Empanadas And More Near Shuttered Nini’s Deli — With Proceeds Benefiting Black, LGBTQ Charities

Nini's Deli closed after its owner stood outside the restaurant for hours repeating homophobic and anti-Black Lives Matter comments.

Jared Bobo, left, and Danny Espinoza will operate Nono's Deli food truck this weekend in West Town.
Jared Bobo / Provided
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WEST TOWN — A food truck parodying the disgraced Nini’s Deli will sell empanadas Friday and Saturday and give all proceeds to charity.

The food truck, called “Nono’s Deli,” will park at the corner of Chicago Avenue and Ada Street at 8 a.m. Friday and Saturday. The truck will sell food until supplies run out.

Proceeds will be split equally between Chicago organizations My Block, My Hood ,My City, a group focused on Black and Brown youth, and Center on Halsted, the Midwest’s largest LGBTQ organization.

Event organizers initially came up with the idea to parody Nini’s Deli as a joke, said co-organizer Jared Bobo, owner of Chicago marketing company Like Food.

“It’s funny, you laugh about it,” Bobo said. “Those type of ideas never come to fruition. I said, ‘No, we can actually do this.’ I truly believe this will be welcomed, especially with the money going toward the charities. … It will give a much more positive spin on this negative situation.”

Nini’s Deli, 543 N. Noble St., closed permanently after owner Juan Riesco stood outside the restaurant and, for hours, repeated homophobic and anti-Black Lives Matter comments.

In response, hundreds of protesters quickly gathered outside Nini’s and lingered throughout the weekend. Companies including Nike and Molly’s Cupcakes cut ties with Nini’s, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Riesco’s church, the Underground Church of Chicago — also known as Metro Praise International — engaged in illegal services during COVID-19 in the Belmont Cragin neighborhood. The church has taken an official stance of opposition to Black Lives Matter, according to Facebook posts.

Bobo, who regularly dined at Nini’s Deli and enjoyed his relationship with staff and other regulars, said Riesco’s beliefs came as a “shock.” He hoped other neighbors and regulars visit his food truck this weekend so they can say hello and contribute to a good cause.

“I hope the momentum continues, hopefully it translates to other businesses,” he said. “We just hope that everybody comes out and supports. … We’re expecting to sell out so we hope people get there early.”

Chef Danny Espinoza, of Cantina Laredo and Santa Mesa, will be making an array of empanadas and sandwiches ranging from $5-$12. Check out his menu here.

Playing into the parody, the Nono’s Deli logo mimics that of Nini’s Deli, in which the words are wrapped in a circle made up rectangular-shaped dashes.

The food truck colors, however, will be black and white — a contrast from Nini’s trademark bubblegum pink wall.

Cash Drop, the payment processing service once used by Nini’s, will donate all credit card fees. Dark Matter Coffee will supply a speciality cafe con leche made special for the food trucks. Anmar Foods, of West Town, will donate meats.

“We’ll have a pretty consistent flavor profiles and looks and feels across the food front,” Bobo said.

Learn more about the food truck online.

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