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Lincoln Square, North Center, Irving Park

Alexander’s Restaurant To Open In Former Jeri’s Grill Space, Bringing Another Family-Owned Diner To North Center Corner

When it opens this spring, the Western Avenue restaurant will be Alexander’s second location and feature the same diner menu as its original Edgewater spot, which has been open since 1960.

Jeri's Grill, a North Center staple for 57 years, closed this weekend, joining other restaurants unable to weather the coronavirus pandemic and state shutdown.
Bob Chiarito/Block Club Chicago
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NORTH CENTER — The family behind Alexander’s Restaurant will open a new location at the former Jeri’s Grill this spring.

Jeri’s was among a dying breed of 24-hour diners throughout Chicago when Frank Di Piero, son of original owner Anice Di Piero, announced its closure in May 2020. It was one of many restaurants that permanently closed because of the pandemic.

When Jeri’s first opened in 1963 at 4357 N. Western Ave., Di Piero’s father named it after his older sister Geriann. His father, a Marine veteran of WWII, spelled the restaurant with a “J” instead of a “G” so that people wouldn’t call it Garry’s.

Di Piero previously told Block Club he believed the restaurant would be able to ride out the state’s 2020 stay at home order, thinking it would only mean being closed for 10 days.

But things changed once the shutdown was extended. After closing the restaurant, Di Piero put the property that hosted the 57-year-old diner on the market. 

Di Piero also reached out to the Mizhquiri family, which operated longtime diner Alexander’s at 6158 N. Clark St., to ask if they wanted to buy it, said Diana Mizhquiri, one of Alexander’s owners.

“When Frank reached out to us at the beginning of the pandemic, we initially passed on the opportunity,” Mizhquiri said.

At the time, the pandemic was in its early stages and the family was less certain of how to navigate the dine-in bans and other COVID-19 related complications. 

But once the family made changes, including expanding its take-out options, they reached out to Di Piero again and bought the building.

The family is now working with an architect and plans to renovate the diner, Mizhquiri said. 

Once it opens this spring, it’ll be Alexander’s second location and have the same diner menu as its 6158 N. Clark St. location. 

“The building also has a little shop on the end that used be a beauty shop, from my understanding. For that we’re thinking of creating more of a to-go window type of thing with sandwiches and a lot of healthy options,” she said. 

Alexander’s has been around since the early 1960s. In the 1980s, Mizhquiri’s father, Luis, who is of Ecuadorian descent, became head chef for the diner’s initial owners and then its second owners. 

In 2019, he became Alexander’s third owner along with his three adult children, who grew up in the restaurant industry working alongside their father. 

As a child Mizhquiri would often visit her dad while he was cooking at Alexander’s. As an adult, she said she’s blessed to be working alongside him.

The family’s goal is to continue Jeri’s memory through their own legacy as a family-run Chicago diner, she said.

“We’re all in the restaurant field, and to see the pride in my dad’s eyes when we can accomplish something like this is a great feeling,” Mizhquiri said.

“I grew up here as a child and being able to work with my dad is something dreamed of coming true. I’m really looking forward to starting a new adventure over there with the new location in a couple months.”

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