Former Brewers third base coach Rich Donnelly is a big fan of "greasy spoon" diners.
One bright spring training morning at Maryvale Baseball Park, he sidled up to a couple of groggy and possibly hung-over reporters and proudly proclaimed: "I found the perfect place for breakfast. It's not far from the ballpark and it's so greasy that I went to the men's room and there was a guy in there doing his laundry in the sink. Now that's greasy."
A few months later, after the Brewers had broken camp and Donnelly had established residence at a hotel in Brookfield, he approached the same reporters during afternoon batting practice.
"Do you guys know any good breakfast places between Brookfield and the ballpark?" he asked.
"Why, are you looking to do your laundry?" came the reply.
"No," Donnelly said, laughing. "I have a buddy in town and we need a good place to go after we play racquetball."
Donnelly was referred to Penelope's, a family-owned restaurant located at 13425 Watertown Plank Rd. in the heart of the village of Elm Grove.
The next day, Donnelly saw the two reporters again.
"How was breakfast at Penelope's?" he was asked.
"Outstanding," he said. "That place isn't greasy the way I usually like ‘em, but the food was great and the people who run the place were unbelievable, they were so nice."
Donnelly was referring to owners Penelope and Louie Demakopoulos, who will celebrate their eighth anniversary at the restaurant next month.
"I can't believe it's been eight years," Penelope said while preparing for the dinner rush on a snowy afternoon. "It's gone by so fast. It sure doesn't seem like it's been that long."
Penelope and Louie took a break from the restaurant business after running Zorba's with Louie's brother, Paul, for more than 30 years. That restaurant, located at 20290 Bluemound Rd., was sold to the Panos family and became the Char House.
When the venerable Gollash Pharmacy closed, leaving the north end of the strip mall that houses the Elm Grove Post Office vacant, Penelope and Louie took over the 3,700-sq. ft. space and turned it into a 100-seat family restaurant where diners are treated like family.
Much like Omega and other Greek eateries in the area, Penelope's has a large menu, reasonable prices and fast service from a friendly staff. The restaurant is not open 24 hours, but breakfast is available all day and specialties include the Big Fat Greek Breakfast (eggs, gyros, potatoes, Feta cheese and Greek toast) for $6.95, the Elm Grove Breakfast Sandwich (egg, Canadian bacon and cheese) for $5.95, four varieties of skillets (meat, chicken fajita, garden and Grecian) for $6.95 and eggs Benedict (6.95) and crab cakes Benedict ($9.95).
Lunches at Penelope's feature homemade soups and a large selection of burgers and sandwiches, most priced at less than $5. The deluxe sandwich special includes fries and a cup of soup for an extra $1.25.
In addition to an array of steaks, ribs, chops, seafood and pasta choices, dinner selections include comfort foods like meat loaf and roast turkey ($8.95), stir-fry specials (around $10), Greek dishes -- Athenian chicken, mousaka, pastitcho and spanakopita -- all served with Greek salad or soup for $8.95.
The fish fry, available on Wednesday and Friday, features Icelandic cod fried ($8.95) or broiled ($9.95) with soup or salad, a choice of potato and vegetable. Fish and chicken dinners are available for takeout in buckets containing 3 to 24 pieces.
The restaurant features a full bar, but is smoke-free and very family friendly (it's not unusual to see three generations sharing breakfast of dinner together). Children are greeted with coloring books and their entrees include a scoop of ice cream.
Host of “The Drew Olson Show,” which airs 1-3 p.m. weekdays on The Big 902. Sidekick on “The Mike Heller Show,” airing weekdays on The Big 920 and a statewide network including stations in Madison, Appleton and Wausau. Co-author of Bill Schroeder’s “If These Walls Could Talk: Milwaukee Brewers” on Triumph Books. Co-host of “Big 12 Sports Saturday,” which airs Saturdays during football season on WISN-12. Former senior editor at OnMilwaukee.com. Former reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.