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Wicker Park, Bucktown, West Town

Nini’s Deli, Which Has Faced Backlash Over Owner’s Homophobic And Racist Preaching, Has Closed Again In West Town

The West Town restaurant first shut down in 2020 after protesters rallied against owner Juan Riesco’s bigoted comments. It reopened last year.

Nini's Deli at 543 N. Noble St. in West Town on Oct. 3, 2022. The restaurant has closed, according to a post on its Facebook page.
Quinn Myers/Block Club Chicago
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WEST TOWN — A West Town deli and restaurant that has faced protests and widespread condemnation for its owner’s hateful preaching and social media posts has closed for the second time.

Nini’s Deli, 543 N. Noble St., closed in late September, according to a social media post. On Monday, the deli’s windows were papered over and a phone number listed for the business was disconnected.

Nini’s Deli is owned by Juan Riesco. The restaurant served empanadas, sandwiches and other items. 

“A big thank you and shout of praise to our Lord Jesus Christ for every single person who has come along side of us in this season. This past Saturday was our official last day of business at our Ohio & Noble st. location in Chicago,” the restaurant posted on its Facebook page last week.

The restaurant first closed in 2020 after protesters rallied against Riesco’s homophobic and racist comments and street sermons.

In June 2020, Riesco’s brotherJosé Riesco stood outside Nini’s Deli and preached incendiary comments, comparing Black Lives Matter to the KKK and using anti-Black and homophobic slurs, according to the Chicago Tribune. He broadcast his preaching in a Facebook live video. He said his views were based on the Bible.

Companies like Nike and Molly’s Cupcakes then cut ties with the restaurant, and Riesco told the Tribune at the time that Nini’s would not return. 

But after going dark for more than a year, the restaurant reopened last summer. 

Riesco is a member of the Metro Praise International pentecostal church in Belmont Cragin, which made headlines in spring 2020 for holding in-person services in violation of the stay-at-home order. He regularly preaches on the street Downtown and throughout the city.

Riesco frequently shares videos of his preaching on Facebook, as well as bigoted images and commentary which often generate hundreds or thousands of likes. 

One post from last year included an image that read, “Paths That Lead To Hell,” followed by logos for Black Lives Matter and Planned Parenthood, a rainbow pride flag, a hammer and sickle and the Virgin Mary. 

The image then reads, “Paths That Lead To Heaven,” followed by only a Christian cross. The post received more than 6,000 comments, many of them critical. The post was later deleted.

Credit: Facebook/Provided
A now deleted Facebook post from Nini’s Deli on Sept. 6, 2021

It’s unclear if Nini’s will reopen again, be it in West Town or at a different location. Management did not immediately return an email requesting comment on the closure.

“God has been so faithful to us in this season and He has used Nini’s to spread the love of Jesus to so many during our time here. We are hopeful and excited for what God has in store for us next. Lord willing we will see many of you soon! In Jesus mighty name!!” the restaurant’s Facebook post reads.

When Nini’s closed in 2020, a parody food truck called “Nono’s Deli” opened in the neighborhood and raised nearly $11,000 for pro-LGBTQ and racial equity organizations.

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