LINCOLN PARK — Mitchell Abou Jamra’s family found work by opening various delis and marketplaces when they moved to the United States from Lebanon in the 1970s.
Abou Jamra’s gido — Arabic for grandpa — ran a grocery store and meat market with his cousin, while his dad went on to own a market and deli, Abou Jamra said. His other uncles owned their own butcher shops.
Abou Jamra is continuing that family legacy with the opening of All Too Well, a deli and market at 352 W. Armitage Ave. in Lincoln Park.
“This is part of my history and what my family has done since it moved here — owning their own butcher shops, markets and delis,” Abou Jamra said. “So now it’s my turn.”
All Too Well, which opened Saturday, offers an array of classic paninis and other sandwiches inspired by Abou Jamra’s upbringing, he said. Each dish is named after a person, place or experience that’s important to him.
The Cin’s Eden is a house chicken salad named after Abou Jamra’s mother, Cindy, who owns a landscaping company in Michigan. Other dishes include the Gido the Butcher, a sandwich named after Abou Jamra’s grandpa, and the Niff Jen, a turkey sandwich named after his wife.
“All these sandwiches and the stories behind them are really important to me,” Abou Jamra said. “I always liked how restaurants would name sandwiches after celebritIes or athletes, but I wanted to do that in a more personal way.”
Visitors can also shop All Too Well’s marketplace, which features snacks, grab-and-go items, take-home meals that can be warmed up and condiments like mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, giardiniera and hot sauce, Abou Jamra said.
“The reason we’ve got so many pre-made items like that is because we’re along a picnic route,” Abou Jamra said. “So many people will stop by on their way to the park or zoo to picnic, so we’ve got a whole section curated for people to just grab and go on their way there.”
All Too Well sits next to Abou Jamra’s other business, Evette’s, a restaurant named after his teta — or grandma — at 350 W. Armitage Ave. The two businesses share a kitchen, Abou Jamra said.
Eventually, Abou Jamra hopes to introduce wines and spirits to All Too Well’s marketplace, but he needs to secure a zoning change to sell alcohol. He hopes to have that done within a year.
Abou Jamra said it was “an honor” to continue his family’s tradition of owning delis and marketplaces.
“I grew up in three worlds because my parents split when I was super young,” Abou Jamra said. “So I got a lot of authentic Mexican food in Arizona where my dad lived, authentic Lebanese food in Flint, Michigan, with my grandparents and Midwest-style food and culture in Grand Rapids with my mom. It’s a real honor to bring those three worlds together here at All Too Well.”
All Too Well is open 9 a.m.-3 p.m. daily for breakfast and lunch.
Jake Wittich is a Report for America corps member covering Lakeview, Lincoln Park and LGBTQ communities across the city for Block Club Chicago.
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