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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Friday, Sept. 19, 2014

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In Dining Commentary

Julie Pandl's "Memoir of the Sunday Brunch" will be republished and given national distribution by Algonquin Books in November.

In Dining Commentary

George Pandl and his nine children all worked the Sunday brunch at Pandl's. Julie is on the far right.

Pandl's brunch memoir gets national publisher


Spongy cinnamon rolls coated in coarse sugar, piled high in a basket. Heaping mountains of boiled shrimp. Old fashioned pea salads and macaroni salads.

Smoked trout and pickled herring. Pancakes and omelets made to order. Baked whitefish, roasted leg of lamb, tenderloin tips bathed in gravy and spooned over noodles.

Bananas Foster. A giant chocolate chip cookie, saved for the drive home.

If Wisconsin had a state food, it would be the all-you-can-eat buffet, and in its day, none equaled the Sunday brunch at Pandl's in Bayside. In my family, birthdays, anniversaries, graduations and promotions were celebrated there. We purposely avoided Mother's and Father's Days, which had the staff sprinting from kitchen to dining room as if it were running the high hurdles.

After about 40 years, the buffet's day ended when the Pandl family sold the restaurant in 2009 to a Jewish congregation that converted the building into a synagogue. Good for God, but disappointing for our appetites.

Few of the thousands who enjoyed the Sunday brunch over its four decades knew who was in the kitchen peeling the shrimp or in the dining room presiding over the pancake griddle. George and Terry Pandl had nine children, and about the time each's age hit double digits, he or she was rousted out of bed early on Sunday mornings to bolster the professional staff of cooks and servers making the brunch work like a well-oiled machine.

Johnny, Jimmy, Katie, Peggy, Chrissy, Amy, Stevie, Jeremiah and Julie (officially Julia) Pandl didn't have the luxury of sleeping in on Sundays. They went to work in the family business.

That alone provided plenty of grist for stories funny and sad. But patriarch George was a character who drank cocktails out of an empty cottage cheese bucket while pedaling his bicycle home after the final customer left on Sunday.

He would sometimes have to stop at Winkie's to call wife Terry and ask to be picked up. The bike was wobbling.

You get the picture. And we brunchers had no idea until the baby of the family, Julie Pandl, published "Memoir of the Sunday Brunch" last year.

Julie's college degree is in English, with a creative writing concentration. She has written a few overnight 10-minute plays for Combat Theatre, and she has done a little standup comedy using the family restaurant as her material. But her professional life has been spent in the the restaurant industry, working in the Pandl's catering division, selling restaurant and restaurant safety equipment, and now handling social media and writing a blog for the Boelter superstore.

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